PARK RIDGE (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A pink and white pastry shop offers a piece of Paris in Park Ridge.
LeilaLove French Macarons is the latest stop on a culinary journey for pastry chef Leila Manoocheh that began in Iran. The journey also ran through London and Chicago before arriving in the northwest suburbs.
Manoocheh said she caught the baking bug in London, where she was making flower arrangements for a florist who also made wedding cakes.
She discovered that she enjoyed working with flour instead of flowers.
"I figured out that pastry is my career, not flowers," Manoocheh said.
She said Middle Eastern pastries and European pastries have a lot in common.
"Back in my country, all of the pastries that I loved I thought were Iranian pastries, but they are just like French pastries."
After a couple of baking classes in London, Manoocheh set her sights on America and the culinary program at Kendall College.
"Then I started teaching over there, and then after that I was at the Peninsula Hotel," Manoocheh said.
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She thought Chicago was going to be just another stop on a journey around the world.
"I thought I'm not going to stay here more than two years after I finished college. I ended up loving Chicago," Manoocheh said.
LeilaLove Macarons started as an online business in 2007. The shop in Park Ridge was the result of a desire to move on from renting a commercial kitchen.
She wanted a kitchen of her own, but zoning rules required a storefront. LeilaLove Macarons brick and mortar location opened in the spring of 2019.
The pink-and-white decor stands out in the strip of insurance offices and auto repair shops on Higgins. She said the color scheme reflects her tastes.
"I love colors. My color is pink. Since we have this store I tried to make it just like my home," Manoocheh said.