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Caputo's new pastry chef baking up some competition

Published April 17, 2012 9:34 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Caputo's Market and Deli has hired Lya Becnel as it's new pastry chef. Becnel, previously worked at Fresco Italian Cafe and Les Madeleines Bakery before traveling to Europe where she trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London and worked as a pastry chef in Michelin-starred restaurants.

At Caputo's, 314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, Becnel is making a variety of different desserts including chocolate cake, tiramisu, gelato and buttery French pastry called kouign amann (pronounced kween aman).

The crispy, caramelized kouign amann, according to this story in Food & Wine magazine, is the 2012 pastry of the year and has been showing up in bakeries all around the country. Becnel is making two version for Caputo's — a classic version (pictured here) and one filled with chocolate. They cost $4.99 each.

Becnel's offering creates some new competition for Romina Rasmussen, owner of Les Madeleine's, who for many years has been the only Utah baker selling kouign amanns. In fact, the Caputo's on 15th carried her pastries. (For the record, Becnel did not learn how to make them during her short stint at Les Mad's)

Matt Caputo said making the French pastries in house has caused him — and Rasmussen — a bit of angst. But the move not only saves Caputo's money, it also means that kouign amanns can be sold at the 300 South location, something that had not allowed before.

"The recipe is common," said Caputo, "and Lya is a dear friend who we have always wanted to employ and now we have finally found a way."

As for Rasmussen, she should consider it a compliment as "imitation is the best form of flattery."