- Associated Press - Sunday, March 23, 2014

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. (AP) - Philippe Niez prepared slices of chocolate mousse for serving in the kitchen of Middlebury Baking Co. last Monday afternoon.

To his left, dough for a batch of croissants was set beside a roller.

“I’m doing some chocolates,” Niez said. “Right now, I’m starting to make some Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs.”

The Easter candy will come in dark, white and milk chocolate. Some were already in the glass display case of the bakery at 590 Middlebury Road.

Niez, 45, who was an executive pastry chef at the Mayflower Inn in Washington Depot for 10 years, took over Middlebury Baking Co. from his brother, Denis, on Jan. 2. Niez plans to offer more pastries, cakes for special occasions and chocolates.

Denis Niez still owns Ovens of France in Woodbury, and Philippe sells his brother’s fresh baked breads. Shelves behind the glass counter feature baguettes and loaves of potato, rye and organic wheat breads, among the selections.

Philippe Niez grew up in Normandy, France, and said he comes from a long line of great cooks, including his grandmother and his father, who was a chef.

He said he never gave becoming a baker a second thought.

“We always gravitate around food,” he said. “I don’t think there was ever a real question of doing anything else.”

Niez had worked in kitchens in England, Germany and Ireland before making pastries at the Ovens of France and the Mayflower Inn.

Asked how long he wanted to have his own business, Niez grinned and said, “Forever.”

When running two places started to take a toll on him, Denis wanted to keep the Middlebury Baking Co. - which he owned for four years - in the family, and offered it to his brother.

“It was the right time and the right place,” Philippe Niez said.

Middlebury Baking Co. has paninis made on Ovens of France bread and soups for lunch. Beverages include T.M. Ward flavored coffees, and a specialty drinks menu with espresso, cappuccino, Chai tea and a Nutella latte.

“We will come out with fresh squeezed juice in a couple of weeks,” Niez said. “Pear, carrots and ginger will be the first.”

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