La Patisserie Chouquette Preparing a Different Juneteenth This Year

This is the third year that Simone Faure has put together a Juneteenth celebration at La Patisserie Chouquette. - MABEL SUEN
This is the third year that Simone Faure has put together a Juneteenth celebration at La Patisserie Chouquette.

Simone Faure knows that this year's Juneteenth celebration at her bakery La Patisserie Chouquette (1626 Tower Grove Avenue, 314-932-7935), will be much different than those of in the past. A year ago, the shop was filled with students from the neighboring Montessori school learning about the holiday's significance while eating tea cakes and drinking hibiscus tea. Customers who had casually come into the bakery stopped to listen and join in the festivities. She even recalls a couple who ambitiously attempted to eat one of every Juneteenth celebratory sweet, only to leave overly stuffed with a package of leftovers.

COVID-19 has made such a Juneteenth gathering impossible this year, but to Faure, that's not the only thing that feels different.

"This year, we have a lot of people genuinely interested in learning about it," Faure says. "The hope is that it will become a federal holiday celebrated like Fourth of July, because it is equally important."

Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States when federal orders to that effect were read in Galveston, Texas (two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation), has been an event at La Patisserie Chouquette for the last few years. Faure is not going to let the outbreak dampen the festivities, especially during a time when there is real momentum to address the unhealed wounds of the country's legacy of slavery.

To honor the holiday, La Patisserie Chouquette put together boxes containing the items her family traditionally served during Juneteenth celebrations when she was a kid. These include red velvet cake, sweet potato pone, banana pudding, blackberry dumplings, 7Up cake, southern tea cakes, strawberry shortcake and sweet bacon and cheddar corn bread. Though the pre-orders for the boxes have already sold out, the bakery will offer the same goodies a la carte for curbside pickup on Friday and Saturday.

In addition to Faure's edible handiwork, the celebration will highlight the work of another artisan, Sofi Seck. Seck, whose social enterprise Expedition Subsahara sells goods made by African artisans to fund a STEAM school in her native Senegal, will be outside of the store with baskets, jewelry and handbags.

Faure has also coordinated with Honeycomb, the children's store across the street. The shop is bringing books on racial justice that can be used as resources for families who are trying to learn how to be allies to the black community.

La Patisserie Chouquette, Expedition Subsahara and Honeycomb are all donating a portion of proceeds from the Juneteenth celebration to organizations like ArchCity Defenders, Black Lives Matter and the Loveland Therapy Fund.

"We're encouraging you to get out of your car and feel a little normal," Faure says. "It's like a little bazaar."

As for the significance of the event, Faure is hopeful that the interest she's seen in this year's Juneteenth celebration can be sustained and used to effect long-overdue change.

"I hope that this is not just a passing phase," Faure says. "I hope that people are super excited, and not just because it is the thing to do, but because they want to research and learn and understand that it should be a holiday. It should've been the beginning of a healing process so we could grow as a a nation. People think the slaves went free after Lincoln freed them in 1863, but plantation owners moved to Texas and set up homes there to maintain the status quo because there was no one watching. Conversations like this help us bridge the gap and help with understanding, but if you aren't having them, then no one is moving forward."

For more information on La Patisserie Chouquette's Juneteenth celebration visit its Facebook or Instagram pages.

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About The Author

Cheryl Baehr

Cheryl Baehr is the restaurant critic for the Riverfront Times and an international woman of mystery. Follow her on the socials at @cherylabaehr
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