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Philippe Delarue Serves Sweet Slices of Paris His Neighbors

On a recent Saturday, just down the street from the Lincoln Park Steps on California Street, a crowd milled about on the sidewalk. They weren’t waiting around for a photo op in front of the iconic mosaiced staircase. Instead, they had queued up to receive an order of tartes, bread, soup or some other tasty treat made by Philippe Delarue. Over the past two years, the French expat and pastry chef has built a following running a pop-up patisserie out of his Eduardian flat every weekend.

Delarue has a unique calling card: Wearing a close-fitting Betón Ciré cap, he leans out of the second story window and lowers his homemade goods in a wicker picnic basket to the people waiting below—like a scene straight out of a Disney movie.

The former proprietor of Patisserie Philippe, Delarue started Patisserie on California at the beginning of the pandemic, in May of 2020. He began with fresh crepes and now sells a variety of pastries and French dishes, from tartes to brioche and beyond.

The patisserie soon had a loyal clientele, including a Muni bus driver who would stop their route to pay him a visit. Things really blew up when TikTok user @taybeepboop made a video in March 2022 showcasing Patisserie on California. The clip now has more than 600,000 views and it is common for a line to form outside Delarue’s garage at 6822 California St. before he and his crew have even finished setting up for the day.

“The regular customers were kind of annoyed, like whats going on?” Delarue said of his sudden surge in popularity. “They usually didn’t have a line, just about three or four people. But then it was around the corner, like 30 to 40 people waiting.”

Delarue’s love of food can be traced back to his childhood home in Le Mans, France, where he learned the ropes helping his mother cook for their family. He went on to study the art of pastry making, taking an apprenticeship at a patisserie in his home town before going to work for the renowned Gaston Lenôtre in Paris.

From there he moved to London and Montreal—eventually crossing the border into America illegally in the trunk of a Cadillac. He is now a full U.S. citizen and calls San Francisco home, though he shares a taste of his native France every Saturday and Sunday with his customers.

“Pastries are comfort food—its friendship,” Delarue said. “When I have a really good friendship, food is the center of the conversation.”

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