Michele Coulon is a self-taught pastry chef and owner of Michele Coulon Dessertier at 7556 Fay Ave. She is the daughter of Don and Arlene Coulon, retired owners and chefs of the Belgian Lion Restaurant. The Coulon family lived in Paris, France during Michele’s high school years. Many trips were made to her father’s native Liege, Belgium where she said she was greatly influenced by the cooking (and especially baking) of his family.
She started making Michele Coulon desserts for the Belgian Lion Restaurant when it opened in 1977, while she attended San Diego State University for computer sciences. She worked both as a computer programmer and pastry chef until she decided to follow her true love of baking fulltime.
Michele Coulon Dessertier is going on its 11th year in La Jolla. Many of her cakes have been photographed for magazines like
She works with local organic farms to obtain only the best quality ingredients, including Griffin Farms in Campo run by Matt Furgeson.
What brought you to La Jolla?
That was my parents’ retirement. They owned the Belgian Lion Restaurant. They were nice enough to let me get chocolate and buttercream all over the place for 25 years.
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
More parking and less traffic!
Who or what inspires you?
My parents and people like them: Alice Waters, Michelle Obama, Alice Medrich ... people who believe in slow food and who are trying to change the way we eat ... teaching that good food for everyone is a must.
What is your most-prized possession?
My cat! I couldn’t live without that purr!
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
Definitely my family because they provide the best entertainment, are the most appre- ciative, make sure there’s never a dull mo- ment, and are full of love for each other and life. And I would have help with the dishes!
What do you do for fun?
Ballet, yoga, leaving the shop for an hour and running down to check on what the seals are up to, gardening, cooking and hanging out with my family.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I am very energetic.
What is your philosophy of life?
Since desserts are my life, I preach that dessert is not something you eat every day,
so make it worth your while. I would rather eat a small piece of something incredible than a lot of something not so great!
Use the best possible ingredients, and the best method in making a dessert. The time it takes cannot be a factor. The final outcome is what counts.
I want guests at a wedding to look at the cake as a beautiful piece of art, but also an edible piece of art, and something they can’t wait to eat!
What would be your dream vacation?
My whole family going anywhere together.
What historical figure do you identify with?
Alice Waters! (Waters is a U.S. chef, restaurateur, activist and author. She is the owner of Chez Panisse, a Berkeley, Calif. restaurant famous for its organic, locally grown ingredients and for pioneering California cuisine. —