by Camden Avery
You might have noticed a bright orange 1980 Volkswagen Westfalia rolling around the neighborhood lately, one with a paint job that reads "Vive La Tarte." You might have also, if you're like us, gotten curious.
What is Vive La Tarte? We had to find out.
So here we are. Upper Haight, meet Vive La Tarte.
Vive La Tarte, the Haight.
Vive La Tarte is, we have to say, exceptionally cool.
It is also, more thoroughly, a new organic bakery start-up with menu of traditional Belgian pastries both sweet and savory. They deliver for free in the Volkswagen, and they take orders by tweet. That's right. (@tarte, if you're curious.) You can also see them parked on Wednesday afternoons at the Upper Haight Farmers' Market, where they started selling their pies this spring.
Vive La Tarte is the brainchild of Julie Vandermeersch and Arnaud Goethals, who cashed in their corporate consulting careers in Belgium and landed in the Haight nine months ago. "After six or seven years as management consultants," Arnaud said, "we decided to chuck everything we had and start up here." That's when they started Vive La Tarte.
But how did they get into baking? Arnaud said that started with Julie, whose great aunt wrote a cookbook that began as a family archive and was eventually published in Belgium, where it was a huge success. "We started from this recipe book and our idea was basically to make the traditional recipes that were in there with organic ingredients from California," Arnaud said.
Vive La Tarte is focused, as any serious Bay Area culinary start-up ought to be, on local, organic, excellent ingredients. But Arnaud said the decision to go organic had less to do with food trends than it did with taste, and with sticking to tradition. "We respect the tradition," he said: "Thinking about these traditional recipes, when they were making these recipes in the early part of the 20th century, they were working with products from the farm."
Their commitment is to supporting small, organic, local farms and eventually, Arnaud said, maybe even an urban garden.
Right now, Vive La Tarte is focused on their special order delivery service, which caters to anyone from individual residences, to small start-ups (they serve Twitter), to hotels, coffee shops and bakeries. And they have the stall at the Upper Haight Farmers' Market. The plan over the next few years is to expand into a permanent store space, Arnaud said, "where you'd be able to serve people, they would be able to come in, take a slice of pie" and hang out.
In the meantime, we'll be seeing them at the farmers' market. And probably tweeting orders.
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