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Manhattan Beach Attorney Makes Pandemic Shift, Opens Vegan French Bakery

May 04, 2021 09:39AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
A Manhattan Beach entertainment lawyer who decided to make a career change during the pandemic has followed her dreams and opened a French vegan bakery.

Macha Eliad-Sene, owner and founder of the patisserie Maison Macha, will make her debut selling her artisan cakes and pastries at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market today. (The Manhattan Beach Farmers' Market is open at 13th and Morningside every Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

Eliad-Sene said that her priority is for all of her pastries and cakes to be delicious - and she doesn't want anyone to be turned off by the "vegan" label. 

"Some people might say, 'I’m not vegan, so I'm not going to have it.' But I think it should be delicious for anybody," she told DigMB.

Furthermore, she emphasizes that her creations are simple, artisan delicacies that can be eaten and enjoyed informally, not just for special occasions.

"I don’t want to make anything shiny and perfect looking. It's all about creating something that is simple, with the idea that 'less is more,'" she said. "It’s hard to do 'simple and great.' It’s easy to add on stuff and cover it up. When it’s this simple, it has to be great."

At Tuesday's market, Eliad-Sene expects to offer individual chocolate, pistachio apricot, almond pear, and berries and cream tarts; as well as slices of lemon pound cake and chocolate marble cake - plus a few other surprises.

Making a Career Shift

Eliad-Sene was raised in France in a French-Romanian-Israeli family, has a Senegalese husband, and has lived and traveled all over the world. She described her family as a "mixed melting pot" of artistic and creative personalities.

She and her husband and their children settled in the Los Angeles area, where she had a career as an entertainment industry lawyer. As a lawyer, she said, she provided a bridge between the creative side and the legal side, but she yearned to use her own creativity. 

"I facilitated everyone’s creativity for years and years. I was the perfect mediator between these two worlds, but I always missed doing my own things," she said.

She had always loved baking and was especially intrigued by vegan baking after she became a vegan. (Veganism is defined as eating no animal products, so no eggs or butter are involved.) Vegan pastry chefs need to tap into their creativity to make pastries just as delectable as their traditional counterparts.

As a vegan baker, Eliad-Sene says she relies on a variety of natural ingredients, such as potato protein (which can be whipped up to imitate meringue) apple cider vinegar (used for leavening and flavor enhancing), and tapioca starch (used for thickening and crisping). And yes, she uses sugar, although she uses it in moderation, "the French way."

After training in France with some of the top vegan bakers in the world, she was eager to bring that craft back to California in some form. But it was the year of the pandemic that finally convinced her to turn that love into her new career.

"This COVID year I decided I wanted to trust my intuition and listen to the entrepreneur vibe here in California," she said. "I decided I’m just going to launch this business. This is my passion, and I do it well."

Eliad-Sene operates out of a commercial kitchen in Culver City. She takes online orders that are available for pickup on Sundays in Culver City. (She can do custom orders that are gluten-free or soy-free as well.)

Tuesday will be her first farmers' market venture. She said she is looking forward to being there in person to represent her baked goods, and to explain her philosophy and methodology to her customers. 

A Natural Fit for the Farmers' Market

Manhattan Beach Farmers' Market manager Cynthia Rogers told DigMB that Maison Macha was a natural fit for the market.

"We are so excited to have Chef Macha join our vendor team," said Rogers. "In the spirit of certified farmers’ markets serving as a platform to elevate and amplify good clean food - Macha and her 100% plant-based patisserie fall squarely within that movement."

Rogers said that the market is fortunate to have a team of artisanal food vendors who are not only passionate in their craft, but who are working to better the community.

"Each and every farmers’ market day is a celebration in support of the values of the slow food movement," she said. "It's a shift away from industrial sourced foods toward local food systems that provide access to truly some of the very best small farmers and local food-makers in the area."

The Manhattan Beach Farmers Market is open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. every Tuesday at 13th and Morningside Drive. The market is an essential (food) business certified by the L.A. County Department of Health, and as such, masks are required.

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