Bonjour Creperie- Sweet Success
Philadelphia is a city known for its historical richness, and perhaps just as much, for its incredible food.
During the summer, the city hosts handfuls of outdoor events, and ubiquitous at these events are the famed Philly food trucks. The food truck craze has gotten so big that there are festivals dedicated solely to showcasing the splendour that is Philly street food.
One of the biggest festivals, Night Market Philadelphia, has attracted over 200,000 individuals and 300 vendors to its pop-up events held in some of the city’s most lively neighbourhoods.
Attendees roam the trailer-lined streets, surveying, and sampling everything from cheese curds to Asian fusion tacos.
The decision-making process takes time, as there are only so many craft gnocchi and Maine lobster rolls one can stomach, no matter how delectable.
Vendy Award Winner
For this reason, the culinary competition can get intense, but the reward is sweet for the vendor who draws the greatest following: the coveted Vendy Awards.
This year, husband and wife team Jean-Pierre and Rebecca Bisilliat captured the Vendy for “Best Dessert” with their bright-orange creperie-on-wheels, Bonjour Creperie.BonjourCreperie
It wasn’t a mutual love for good food that initially joined the accomplished artisans.
Jean-Pierre, a Brazilian-born horse-lover, lived with his grandparents in France from ages five to 13.
He moved back to Brazil until age 33 when his work as a horse photographer brought him to the States to cover various shows.
He met Rebecca, a Philly native, at the farm where she trained horses. The two now live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
So why crepes? “Both of us love food,” Jean-Pierre said, describing his and Rebecca’s fondness for the Food Network channel.
He shared that the couple first thought of opening a Brazilian food truck but decided against it after considering how difficult it can be working with barbeque and meat. For Jean-Pierre, crepes seemed like a logical alternative.
“I had my French blood, so I went back to France,” Jean-Pierre said.
He spent a month taking a course on crepe-making at L’École des Chefs Crêpiers, Pizzaiolos et Glaciers, a culinary school in the northwestern region of France near Quimper, Brittany.
After that, he spent time touring creperies in Brittany, the confection’s birthplace. IMG_2532
Sweet and Savory Crepes
Today, after only two years of business, hungry crowds from all over the Greater Philadelphia area flock to Bonjour Creperie, eager to try a mouthwatering assortment of sweet and savory crepes.
Jean-Pierre’s favorite is a classic crepe, dressed simply with a layer of butter, a sprinkle of sugar, and a hint of lime (his Brazilian touch).
“I do most of the cooking,” Jean-Pierre shared. “I’m always searching for recipes and playing in the kitchen.”
Though the Bisilliats cook together when on the road, Rebecca, a vegetarian, handles more of the administrative end of the business.
Her favorite recipe, however, is her very own creation: one crepe stuffed with spinach, goat cheese, strawberries, or blueberries and topped with roasted almonds and a drizzle of homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Owning a Food Truck
Jean-Pierre says that initially, the hardest part of owning a food truck was mastering the routine: prepping for each event, cleaning up after gigs, and maintaining a fresh stock of ingredients.
Today, Jean-Pierre’s biggest concern is for the food truck community.
“The townships don’t give you support to work,” he said. “I cannot work every day.”
Jean-Pierre explained the challenges that face food truck vendors, who rely on private hires and events like Night Market Philadelphia.
Food Truck Sales in Winter
Even award-winning trucks like Bonjour struggle to find work during the cold northeastern winters.
This past winter, Jean-Pierre and Rebecca headed south in an effort to keep business afloat.
While the Bisilliats certainly have thought about one day parking their orange creperie-on-wheels and opening a restaurant, Jean-Pierre explains that a restaurant is “a whole different story, a different investment.”
A description on the company’s website reads: “Food should be fun; surprising; exciting. And above all, it should be enjoyed.”
Jean-Pierre explains that the philosophy at Bonjour is “good quality, first of all, then good service.”
The Vendy Award is just one indicator of its success. Jean-Pierre knows what it takes to come out on top.
Besides what he refers to as “the deliciousness of my dessert,” the presentation of the food itself and pleasant vibes are key in maintaining a loyal fan base. “I appreciate everyone who comes and stands in line, and I greet everyone.”
Guest Contributor, Carly Hoilman
Follow Bonjour Creperie on Social media:
Owners: Jean-Pierre and Rebecca Bisilliat
Phone (267) 261-6735
Email jp @bonjourcreperie.com