When Wendy Lyn moved to Paris twenty years ago she found herself living out a foodie version of the book series, Eloise. Instead of the Plaza hotel, she had the famous Paris bakery Poilâne as her delectable dominion. With the luscious scent of buttery pastries as her alarm clock, she’d run down from her chambre de bonne on the top floor of the bakery to pick up apple turnovers or sourdough country bread fresh out of the wood-burning ovens.
Often she’d be invited to join the owners and staff in the adorable dining room behind the shop for breakfast under a bread chandelier. Call it crazy, call it fate, call it freaking unfair, this mouthwatering set-up sparked Wendy’s incurable passion for food—its origins, its producers, its purveyors and its best Paris addresses.
Today, Wendy’s got the city’s culinary circuitry running through her veins. With the speed of a 1920s switchboard operator she can plug you in to the latest hotspot, make an impossible reservation, or have your sipping Champagne with a three-star Michelin chef. When she’s not doing all of the above for her international clientele of gastronomic journalists, professional chefs, and restaurant owners, she’s leading lip-smacking food safaris and wine crawls through Paris.
So on one of the coldest days of the year, I bundle up to meet Wendy and a family from Chicago (I blamed them for the weather) for a winter wonderland tasting tour through St. Germain des Près. Leading us on a side street passed a bagel stand that I, the New York native, had never heard of (!!), we arrive in front of Wendy’s first apartment above the Poilâne bakery. Standing there, she gives us a primer on the history of the site, explaining that it was originally a 17th century monastery before it was purchased by the Poilâne family in 1932, and that during WWII hungry artists nearby would barter paintings, many of which are on display in the secret dining room inside, in exchange for a steady supply of fresh bread.