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Wine & Dine
May 16, 2018

A Visual Treat: The A To Zine Of Pastry With Sucré By Shaheen Peerbhai And Manolya Isik

Text by Faye Remedios

When they got a chance to combine their skills in baking and illustration, Shaheen Peerbhai and Manolya Isik rose to the occasion beautifully with Sucré, a meticulously illustrated, pastry-focused zine that you will want to keep on an easily accessible shelf in your kitchen

They say a lot can happen over coffee. For Shaheen Peerbhai and Manolya Isik, it led to a sweet collaboration, quite literally. The former, a Le Cordon Bleu and Alain Duccase-trained pastry chef and founder of the popular Purple Foodie blog and the latter, a Turkish illustrator from the Netherlands, put their heads and love for pastry together to launch Sucré, a zine on French patisserie that they describe as playful, elegant and feminine. Verve catches up with them to learn more about their delectable project….

On the medium
SP: “They are a quick read and visually stimulating. I’ve been to illustration fairs and have been fascinated by how zines can be so varied, creative and yet casual. I love the honesty they bring as they usually represent a singular vision and aren’t influenced by too many people as with traditional publishing.”

MI: “I do think people in general are starting to appreciate independently made products more and more, and it’s easier nowadays to find them when you follow creatives on social media. I guess that in the illustration world zines have always been popular. I love that a zine lends itself to a variety of illustrations — in our case, endpaper patterns, maps, lettering and step-by-step recipes. ”

On the idea
SP: “We all spend enough time in front of our screens and we wanted Sucré to be an excuse to get away from the constant scrolling on Instagram. Manolya and I met over lots of cups of coffee, sharing storyboards and ideas. Initially, it was a rather ambitious book with 20 recipes, but we pared it down to an introduction of sorts to French patisserie with recipes and techniques, stories and superstitions, maps and facts about some of the glorious pastries of France. I love creating things from scratch and having control and involvement over the entire process makes it enjoyable for me. We had a customer who lost her zine and asked if we could email her a PDF. As a policy, we don’t do that because we believe zines are meant to be held as books — felt and pondered over.”

MI: “We knew from the beginning that we wanted to create something that would combine Shaheen’s knowledge of baking with my illustration skills. We decided on a zine that should be an introduction to French patisserie for lovers of baking and illustration. I particularly enjoy coming up with ideas for the spreads and trying to visualise how to get a nice flow.”

On the process
SP: “Sucré in French means sweetened and the title couldn’t be more apt for a zine on French patisserie. Trends come and go and by nature I’m firmly grounded in the classics camp. As you will see in Sucré, we focus on keeping the zine timeless with facts, stories and classic recipes. Usually zines are a lot more casual and they are made by the artist alone, so they don’t necessarily have an authoritative voice over the subject. In our case, Sucré is a coming together of professionals in pastry and illustration who align in their aesthetic sensibilities and have a penchant for attention to detail. We hope that Sucré reaches lots and lots of pastry fans from all over the world. We have an online shop and we ship worldwide, so all you need to do is hop on to sucrezine.purplefoodie.com and place your order. Thanks to the zine being lightweight, we are able to keep the shipping cost to a minimum, and we’ve seen people from all over buy the zines — India, China, Canada, France and UK so far. We are very selective about our stockists and we are stocked at some of the coolest shops in London, Paris and Mumbai. The online shop Paper Planes stocks them too.”

MI: “A lot of my favourite zines look amazing, but are not meant to be informative. I like that when you get Sucré, you also get a bonus of three very good recipes, along with some useful tips and facts. I started out by making several sketches to figure out the layout. When we had decided on the content, I made all the illustrations using ink and brush and finally put everything together in Photoshop. For the cover art, we wanted to keep it simple, elegant yet playful. I looked at French vintage restaurant and bakery signs as inspiration for the script lettering, and added a ‘spine’ so it would have the feeling of an old-school composition notebook. We decided to put a madeleine on the cover because the recipe is featured in the zine and the shape is so lovely.”

On baking
SP: “The trick to writing recipes is to put yourself in the readers’ shoes and write something that works as a guide for them. It should enable them to be able to follow a recipe even if they don’t have any prior knowledge. One of my favourite recipes is of the pistachio financiers, which you can find in the zine! I love what I do as a pastry chef, author and teacher and for me there’s no real work-life divide. I’m happy to bake in the middle of the night for fun or wake up at 4 a.m. for an early shift. My first memory of baking was when I was 12 or 13. I didn’t have an oven at home; so I simulated an oven by heating coals and using a gas hob on a low flame. The cake baked beautifully, and I was so proud of myself. I love the passion I grew up with and I hope I never stop being curious. Though if I have to give people any advice about baking, I’d tell them to stop using cups and stick to scales. Also, they need to understand that their oven will work very differently from their friend’s, so it’s best to gauge doneness from the colour, smell, feel and look of it rather than stubbornly sticking to the time and temperature that a recipe instructs.”

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