BISBEE – Two years ago, a little shop offering sweets and treats opened on Main Street not knowing what would happen.
For Jackie Oatman, it was a chance she was willing to take. So, she opened Patisserie Jacqui and has been happily providing Bisbee residents and visitors a menu filled with all sorts of goodies for takeout.
Oatman got into cooking and baking at an early age. She wanted to provide friends with something to take the edge off of alcohol at parties and took her first steps on what would be a long journey into a culinary career which took her from Minnesota to California to Arizona.
Mentored by the people she worked with in restaurants and clubs, she decided to go to Culinary Arts School and specialize in pastries, following the advice of a top chef at a Los Angeles bistro.
While in school she worked at a bakery and soon made friends with Mary Jo DePaul, the baker at Mississippi Market Coop Working with her.
Oatman began to hone her craft.
“She was my mentor and my friend,” said Oatman.
Now, she has a Bisbee family with coworkers Tiffany Alexander, Stephanie Atterbury and Katie Guess and many in the community.
“They mean the world to me,” she said. “I haven’t seen my parents in Minnesota for a while due to COVID-19. So, they help make up for that. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without their support. It’s hard to find skilled help in a niche like this.
“I didn’t know what to expect with the virus. It’s heartbreaking for some businesses, like restaurants. There’s nothing for them to fall back on. I’m grateful we never depended on indoor dining. We can just hand out the orders as people come for them. I’m seeing a lot of people stop by who are in Bisbee on mini-vacations. I’ve been really lucky.”
She also credits her husband, Thom Oatman, as he is her go-to guy for all she needs for the shop, including trips to Tucson. If she’s out of something, he runs the errands for the business. He also added a Dutch door so people could pickup their online orders or order on the fly from the selections in the window without having to come inside.
Alexander handles the e-commerce side of the business. She set up online ordering and updates the website.
Atterbury and Guess, who also has baking experience, help with mixing, baking and finishing off the final products, which are many. The bakery offers 18 kinds of sweets like Canelé de Bordeaux, all sorts of croissants, bars, pies, eclairs, cookies, tarts, cinnamon rolls, fruit tarts and gluten-free passion fruit cheesecake. Then there is the custom Bailey’s chocolate stout cakes.
For something a little more hardy, she has three hand pies, three croissants stuffed with veggies or meats, sausage rolls and German soft pretzels. Though she added pizza during the restaurant shutdown for people to cook at home, that may be on the way out.
“I’ll probably kick them to the curb,” she added. “They take a lot of time.”
“There’s a lot of room for me to play with the ingredients,” she added. “I never have enough freezer and refrigerator space.”
The team prepares the food all week to get ready for the Friday-to-Sunday weekend customers. Atterbury was in the process of making 300 tarts, while Guess prepared the Canelé de Bordeaux, a sweet concoction that is sort of crunchy on the outside, but more like crème brulee on the inside.
Oatman’s macaroons are a delightful soft cookie that comes in a variety of fruit flavors and chocolate.
She works about 14 hours a day and said, “Any small business owner goes through this.”
Everything is made from scratch and she uses only top-grade butter, which has a higher fat content than store-bought butter. Her croissants alone use 22 pounds of butter. Thanks to her relationship with Rod Cass at Café Roka, he orders it for her.
Her croissants have to be glazed and she uses prepared egg yolks. When it runs out, she turns to market eggs and uses the whites in her macaroons so nothing is lost.
Timers are buzzing, signaling the end of baking for a huge sheet pan which will become luscious cream-filled eclairs, and she immediately heads for the oven. It, like her and her team, runs nonstop all day long.