Written by Maddie McDermott
Along Manchester Road in Saint Louis, sweetly nestled among the hustle and bustle of Kirkwood is Nathaniel Reid Bakery, a French patisserie with a Midwestern soul. Immediately upon entering, the senses tingle from the fragrant and savory bakery treats, and the spirit is warmed by the welcoming smiles of the employees. In the kitchen, Parisian-trained chef Nathaniel Reid adds the finishing touches to a Helene pastry, which according to their menu consists of “almond crumble, poached pears, caramel cream and chai tea chantilly.”
Every step in perfecting the treats is intentional, as were many of the steps Reid took to get to where he is today — a master chef. Reid, a born and raised Missourian, studied at the University of Missouri.
“I was studying biology there, and I did a summer internship and it just wasn’t what I expected it to be … My mother suggested I should try cooking, and it just felt right,” Reid said. “So when I went back to Mizzou, I switched my major to restaurant management.”
Reid says he treasured his time learning the art of baking; however, being a chef was not always a popular career choice. Regardless, he did not let this stop him from his pursuit. He says he encourages others to find something they feel passionate about and something they can see themselves growing with.
After graduating from the University of Missouri around 2000, Reid went to France where he studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
“I loved it — going to school for French cooking in France, you were immersed in it everywhere … school was all day long,” Reid said.
Reid says he has taken inspiration for his baking not just from Paris, but from all over the world, especially the Midwest. His love for Missouri and the people there brought him back after years of studying, teaching and baking internationally.
“My family is from Southeast Missouri, and family is something that is very important to me,” Reid said. “I love Missouri. It’s a wonderful place. I love the nature in the Midwest, what the Midwest stands for. I wanted to start a family here and start a business here.”
The look and atmosphere of the bakery also has a Midwestern feel, and according to Reid, “resembles that of a Midwestern 1950s/1960s ice cream parlor.”
Behind the counter, the walls have crisp black and white backsplash, and the pastries neatly rest behind sparkling glass. Other goodies are displayed in shelves around the restaurant, all with the occasional splash of red.
“[The bakery has] that warm, welcoming service,” Reid said. “As far as the service and the look of the place, it is very Midwestern — I wanted it to be like that. There are only seven seats, though, and that’s more European style.”
Nathaniel Reid Bakery serves pastries, sandwiches, cakes and quiches. For Reid and his staff, the bakery is about more than just the food, but the way the entire process makes each customer feel.
“I want them to feel like it was an experience — the warm greeting, the presentation,” Reid said. “I really like them to feel the value of not just the products, but in the entirety of the process. We are fortunate and lucky to have them walk through our doors.”
First time customer Amy Grigsby had this to say about her experience.
“I thought it was odd that it was located in a strip mall,” Grigsby said. “When I entered, however, I found it to be a darling little shop that smelled divine … I have not seen pastries this beautiful anywhere other than Sucre in New Orleans. They were delicious and little works of art.”
Grigsby says she had the Waldorf Chicken salad croissant for lunch and the Amber for dessert, which is a shortbread with salted caramel mousse and pecan caramel.
Nathaniel Reid Bakery is located at 11243 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, Missouri and is open Monday through Friday 7-6 and Saturdays 7-5. Their online menu can be found at nrbakery.com.