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A Taste of France

In the Kitchen with Chefs Jacqueline and Christophe

There’s a piece of France in Downtown Melbourne where everything tastes as good as it looks. We can thank Jacqueline Dittmore and Christophe Molitor for the artisan bread, pastries and food that are made fresh seven days a week at Jacqueline’s Bakery & Cafe.

The large flour bags in the window? Imported from France. The recipes and techniques? All inspired by Dittmore’s immersion in French culture and food.

“It’s the real thing,” said Karine Reis. She and husband, J.P., own The Burger Place down the street. They enjoy their native French tastes at Jacqueline’s three times a week. “Everything is really good. Going to a bakery in France, this is what you find.”

In addition to the fresh bread, pastries and cakes, Jacqueline’s offers continental breakfast, croissant sandwiches, American and French ice cream sundaes, coffees and teas. The kitchen is occupied starting at 5:30 a.m. The doors open at 7:30 a.m. during the week and 8 a.m. on weekends.

“Deep down, I’ve always wanted to have my own business,” Dittmore said. “You know when you have something in you. I’ve always been a perfectionist, highly organized, methodical.”

But Dittmore started far from the culinary industry. She was an American in Paris for more than 20 years. Like many who willingly move to foreign lands, she visited and fell for the culture. She studied abroad, returned to the U.S. and missed France terribly.

She found her way back, married and had two children, but the relationship ended when her youngest child was 5. She stayed in France to ensure her children would be near their father, and after working two decades at a pharmaceutical firm, she earned her MBA in purchasing management. Then she met Molitor, a businessman.

The new couple discussed moving to the States. Paris was a big city, and they’d had enough. Dittmore’s older brother lives in Melbourne, and he suggested she’d like the climate better than their native Ohio.

“If we are moving back, I have to know how to cook everything that is French,” Dittmore said. “If I want to make pasties, or cook some kind of special dinner, I want the knowledge to do it.”

So, in 2014, she attended Le Cordone Bleu, a renowned school of cuisine and pastry, and obtained the Grand Diploma. Then she earned state certification in artisan bread baking from the Ferrandi culinary school in 2015. A month later, the family moved to Melbourne.

One year later, Dittmore and Molitor opened Jacqueline’s.

“People constantly want to go back to things made from scratch or things your grandmother made,” Dittmore said. “For me, the French way is like a purest thing. Especially here, we make everything from A to Z, all made with fresh ingredients.”

She is proud to share the French way, “a real pride in what you do and what you present.”

Looking forward, Dittmore said a second location is in the works, perhaps a commercial kitchen that can handle surplus baking, and teaching pastry and bread-making classes.

When asked about Jacqueline’s most popular item, Dittmore answered, “A little bit of everything.”

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