DOVER, Del. (AP) — For the past five years, a local couple have been taking their customers on a culinary tour of France from right here in Dover, and they plan to continue for many years to come.
Anita Wheeler-Bezy and her husband, chef Ludovic “Ludo” Bezy, are celebrating the fifth anniversary of La Baguette Bakery and Catering.
The couple opened their business in Dover in February 2017.
“I’d like to tell people that we feel very privileged to be here in Kent County and downtown Dover to be able to bring fresh-made French products to the area and we appreciate their support,” Ms. Wheeler-Bezy said.
The couple dreamed of opening their own business because they wanted to share their love of France — which, along with Kent County, they also call home — and their passion for creating authentic French food, fun experiences and beautiful art with others. The duo met in 1987 in France, later marrying there in 1990.
Chef Bezy graduated from culinary arts school in Saint-Dizier, France, in 1986. Before starting their own venture, Chef Bezy worked in many different restaurants, including 12 years as chef de cuisine at Michele’s Restaurant at Dover Downs. He also has training in breads and pastries from his time in France.
Ms. Wheeler-Bezy has a degree in hospitality management and retired from the ophthalmology field after 21 years. She is the marketing director for all of their projects, of which there are many.
La Baguette offers fresh breads, croissants, pastries and cakes along with a menu of quiches, sandwiches and salads. The bakery also has a full catering service with selections that all offer a taste of France.
Ms. Wheeler-Bezy said with pride that the bakery uses only natural and authentic ingredients in their foods, “no high-fructose corn syrup, no additives, no preservatives and we use non-GMO flour.”
She added that the couple’s business motto is “Beautiful food — exceptional taste.”
Ms. Wheeler-Bezy has a deep connection with the Dover area and tries to give back to the community whenever she can.
“My dad was in the Air Force for 21 years, and when we moved to Dover, which was 1987. I’ve always loved it here. I’ve really felt at home here, like from the moment we got here. And we’re so close to everything. We’re close to the beaches. We’re close to Philadelphia and New York City, Washington, D.C., if we need to go to those places. And Dover Air Force Base is very near and dear to me,” Ms. Wheeler-Bezy said.
The couple regularly donates breads and other items to support many causes that help the Dover area.
“I just really enjoy giving back to the community. There’s really no other way to explain that. That’s how I was brought up, you know, to give to those who need it. It’s very heartwarming. Makes me feel good without wanting anything in return,” Ms. Wheeler-Bezy said.
Their purposeful connection to the region can also be seen in the products La Baguette uses and offers in their store.
“We sell Rise Up Coffee (from Easton, Maryland), we sell Lavender Fields products from Milton. We sell Fordham & Dominion sodas here. We also sell a local honey from Milford. A lot of people are looking for local honey for allergies because people in Delaware suffer from allergies and natural honey from the area is very helpful,” Ms. Wheeler-Bezy said.
The bakery and catering business has about 18 employees, but during the hardest part of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to run their operation with just three people, and two of them were the owners.
La Baguette scaled back their hours to one day of sales. They made a pick-up window for orders, along with curbside service and online ordering.
Slowly, they were able to re-open for more days and provide an expanded menu.
“We offered comfort foods. So people could get soups and mac and cheese and things like that, because people needed comfort foods during that time, plus some of our favorites. We had hot foods that they could take home — pizza, quiche, things like that, it was all offered online,” Ms. Wheeler-Bezy said.
She said she is grateful for the community’s support during the global crisis. Some customers came by and purchased gift cards as a way of supporting the business.
La Baguette also gave back to the community by feeding many first responders.
Chef Bezy wakes up very early every day to make sure La Baguette is stocked with delicious treats. He usually starts at about 3 a.m., he said.
“It’s hard work, but it’s good,” he said.
Chef Bezy is an artist with flour and other baking ingredients but in his free time he also likes to create with paints.
Some of his paintings are on display in the bakery and are also featured in the store’s merchandise line.
The couple recently announced that they are working on a mobile food trailer. They plan to take their French cuisine on the road to area festivals and events in the future.
To learn more about La Baguette, visit labaguetteDE.com.