by Frankie Di Iorio
Right after college, Chef Tarit Tanjasiri’s love for bread began when he worked at a take n’ bake pizza shop. Tasked with mixing the dough, he immediately found interest in the science of dough. However, to easy-going and fun-loving Tarit, becoming a baker with crazy hours and no vacation time did not initially seem appealing. Chef Tarit studied business and economics in college, and after his pizza job, he moved to Hawaii to develop real estate. In Hawaii, he also worked in a Thai restaurant as a cook, waiter, bartender and every other position in the restaurant. In each new position he tackled, he discovered flaws in the systems, that he felt he could fix, were he in a management position. This new perspective gave Tarit a fresh outlook on the hospitality industry.
Eventually, Chef Tarit’s experience, along with the influence of his many friends in the business convinced him to open a restaurant of his own. Tarit moved to Studio City and opened a coffee shop. Over the years, he opened several other businesses, and each had its own unique struggles. When Tarit took over Crema Cafe in Seal Beach in 2006, he finally found his fit. Inspired by his many trips to France (where Tarit fell in love with the vibe of the cafés as well as the high quality of the bread) Crema Cafe was born. Crema was created by Chef to fill a void in the market and bring the same quality of pastries to America.
Crema Cafe began as a small bakery focusing on breakfast pastries and crêpes, but as its popularity grew, the need for expansion was clear. The first expansion allowed room for a full kitchen, and the second transformed the bakery into the lovely café, serving breakfast and lunch daily. Chef Tarit was not satisfied with the bread that he used in his café, so he began to make his own and found his true passion baking bread. After Tarit perfected his skills as a baker, he made his creations available for wholesale. Through mutual friends in the bread world, Chef Tarit met fellow baker Chef Dean Kim and began a friendship and partnership to promote great bread and pastries to local restaurateurs, cafés and coffee shops.
Both bakers are passionate and dedicated to improving the culture surrounding bread in Southern California. They want to educate locals about different types of bread and different methods of baking so that more people can enjoy high-quality bread in their everyday lives. Tarit strongly believes in keeping bread simple by making it with high-quality ingredients and using classic techniques. His mission is to have customers be blown away by a simple croissant and cup of coffee from his café and others throughout the area. Judging by Crema Cafe’s steady customer base and the growth of his wholesale business, I think it’s safe to say that is exactly what he’s achieved.
From the Chef’s Mouth:
CHEF TARIT TANJASIRI’S FAVORITES
KITCHEN GADGET OR TOOL: My knife
KITCHEN APPLIANCE: Dough Sheeter
COOKWARE: Anything easy to clean
OC RESTAURANT: Bluefin
DISH TO EAT: Sushi
RAW INGREDIENT: Toro
FAST FOOD: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
TV PROGRAM: Good Eats
AVERAGE NUMBER OF HOURS YOU WORK IN A WEEK: 40-60
1ST COOKING MEMORY: Cooking with my dad in Thailand
FIRST JOB: Surf shop in Santa Monica
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST HOSPITALITY JOB: Patty’s Take & Bake Pizza
WHAT FIRST INTERESTED YOU IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY: Passion and the lifestyle
YEARS OF CULINARY EDUCATION: Thirty years on the job and courses at the French Pastry School in Chicago
OTHER EDUCATION: BA Economics, USC
IF NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE: Surfer/Beach Bum
CULINARY HERO: Didier Rosada is my bread guru
Chef Tarit Tanjasiri
322 Main St., Seal Beach, CA
ESTABLISHED May 1, 2006
HOURS 7 am – 3 pm
AVERAGE COVER $17
CREMA ARTISAN BAKERS