Two food trucks, Pop-Up Poutine and Pop-Up Patisserie, are wheeling around Montgomery County thanks to husband and wife entrepreneurs Greta Ober and Stephan Beauchesne.
The Canadians, who live in Germantown, met at Montreal’s McGill University in 1988 and married in 1989. (Beauchesne, who was born and raised in Montreal, is quick to clarify he’s French-Canadian; Ober’s from the province of Saskatchewan.) He has an MBA in finance and economics; she has a master’s degree in library and information science.
They moved to the D.C. area in 1989, and Beauchesne worked for NASDAQ, eventually starting his own IT consulting business. Ober worked in libraries, among them the one at the International Monetary Fund. They raised two children, now grown, and then turned to the food business. “Stephan’s dream since he was a little boy was to bake, like in the old Montreal boulangeries and patisseries he loves. In 2002, he took pastry classes at L’Academie de Cuisine to learn the basics,” Ober says.
Cream puffs would not have paid the bills, though, so they stayed in their jobs. But there finally came a time to take the leap, says Ober, so they retired and created an LLC in December 2018. Beauchesne started selling buttercream-filled cream puffs and eclairs at the Kensington farmers market in April 2019 and that summer took an advanced pastry course in France. The pink Pop-Up Patisserie truck the couple ordered from China arrived in the fall of 2019. The truck wasn’t large enough to accommodate an expanded menu that included more savory items, such as poutine—a dish popular in Quebec made with french fries topped with cheese curds and brown, gravy-like sauce—so they added a second, larger truck that they purchased locally in 2020. It’s called Pop-Up Poutine.
The Pop-Up Patisserie truck features baked goods, such as macarons, eclairs, cream puffs, gougeres (savory cheese pastries), truffles, sausage rolls, croissants and shortbread cookies. Not to be missed are the Montreal-style bagels, which are less puffy than their U.S. counterparts. “They’re very different from New York-style,” Beauchesne says. “Ours are all hand-rolled, like a pretzel, boiled in maple water, dumped in vats of various toppings to coat them top and bottom, then baked on a pizza stone for a short time at a hot temperature so they are crusty outside and chewy inside.”
The Pop-Up Poutine truck sells sweet items along with savory ones, including sausage rolls, tourtieres (French-Canadian meat pies) and house-made rye rolls filled with Montreal smoked meat, which Beauchesne describes as a hybrid of corned beef and pastrami. (He acquired the exclusive rights from Montreal manufacturer Mello Foods to sell their smoked meat wholesale in the D.C. area.)
Beauchesne is particularly proud of his poutine, which he deems authentic. “We fry hand-cut fries in vegetable oil, make our own cheese curds daily and use a vegetarian brown sauce we import from Montreal,” he says. Because the sauce isn’t beef stock–based, the poutine is vegetarian, he notes. (But not vegan.) You can also get it topped with chicken, bacon or smoked meat.
Check the websites for the trucks’ schedules. Frequent Montgomery County locations include the Kensington farmers market, Windridge Vineyards in Darnestown and two Rockville breweries, 7 Locks Brewing and Saints Row Brewing.
In October, Ober and Beauchesne opened a storefront commissary kitchen and takeout facility in Rockville near the Twinbrook Metro. It’s also close to government office buildings that they expect will reopen eventually. Many neighborhood workers and residents already pick up food from them, says Beauchesne, including breakfast, which they started offering in November. I picked up lunch there and devoured a delicious smoked meat sandwich and eclair at a picnic table out front.
Pop-Up Poutine and Pop-Up Patisserie, 12712 Rock Creek Mill Road 16 A, Rockville, 240-762-9961, popuppou
“People have told me I am good under pressure,” starts Chevy Chase resident Paula Shoyer’s fifth cookbook, The Instant Pot Kosher Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul (Sterling Publishing, February 2021). It’s the first cookbook devoted to kosher cooking with an Instant Pot, a multi-cooker that has several functions, such as pressure cooking, steaming, slow cooking, yogurt making and rice cooking. Shoyer’s publisher paid for the right to license the brand name on the book.
The book’s first line isn’t surprising given Shoyer’s resume. In 1995, she stopped practicing law to devote herself to a cooking career. She trained as a pastry chef at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier in Paris. Once back home, she branded herself as The Kosher Baker, teaching baking and cooking classes, freelance writing for various newspapers and magazines, authoring cookbooks and making frequent television and speaking appearances. She also has a blog, The Kosher Baker, and runs a Kosher Baker Facebook group. Among her other cookbooks are The New Passover Menu (Sterling Publishing, 2015) and The Holiday Kosher Baker (Sterling Publishing, 2013).
Shoyer, who’s 55, started writing her latest book in December 2018 because so many people were asking her for kosher Instant Pot recipes, which are especially handy for observant Jews who need to prepare food before sundown on Friday, when Shabbat begins, and keep it warm until mealtime.
“I was a latecomer to the Instant Pot, but once I got into it, I couldn’t get over how flavorful the food was,” Shoyer says. “As I delved deeper, I realized it was a perfect device for Jewish kosher cooks because we love soups and stews and there’s only one pot to clean. Then I learned there was a really active kosher Instant Pot community group on Facebook. It has almost 14,000 members now. That’s when I realized I needed to write a cookbook.”
Dishes in The Instant Pot Kosher Cookbook, many of which are vegetarian, run the gamut from breakfast items to appetizers, soups, side dishes, main courses and desserts. Among Shoyer’s recipes are orange shakshuka (poached eggs over a butternut squash and sweet potato puree), everything bagel barbecue chicken wings, Turkish eggplant salad, mushroom barley soup, veal osso buco, spinach pesto brisket, poached salmon with mustard dill sauce, wild mushroom risotto, kasha varnishkes (a dish with buckwheat groats and bowtie pasta), mocha lava cakes and her grandmother’s rice pudding.
The book’s release, originally slated for September 2020, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I wasn’t planning on it coming out in a pandemic, but here we are,” Shoyer says. “We’re all extremely stressed out now. Even if you can’t have people over, you can cook for other people, and here is a device that largely creates comfort food.”
Comings & goings
Chiko, a D.C.-based fast-casual Chinese-Korean chainlet, will open in Bethesda Row this winter. The restaurant will replace Prima, a fast-casual Italian eatery that closed in April, soon after COVID-19
restrictions started, and never reopened.
Chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup announced that this spring, its Bethesda Row location of Jaleo will become Spanish Diner, a comfort food–based concept that debuted in New York City’s Hudson Yards development in May 2019.
D.C.-based chain &pizza plans to open its fifth Montgomery County location, this one in Silver Spring, in the first quarter of 2021.
Call Your Mother, which sells bagels in D.C. and from a trolley car on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, will open a shop at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda this spring.
D.C.-based gelato chain Dolcezza announced it would close its Bethesda Row shop after the holiday season.
In October, Poke Papa closed in Westfield Montgomery mall.
PassionFish Bethesda shuttered in November after a five-year run.
Also in November, La Madeleine French Bakery & Café and Lotus Grill & Bar closed in Bethesda.