Veronique King dances slowly in a circle to a French pop song playing on the radio in her shop, Crêpes Véronique. A sugary smell wafts through the small café after the lunchtime rush.
“I’m not just dancing, you know,” King says, in a thick French accent. She wears steel-framed glasses, a hat to keep her hair back as she cooks and an apron dotted with the flour she uses in her crepe batter.
“I do this to relax my neck, after a long day of making crepes.”
Since Crêpes Véronique opened last March, King has spent her afternoons cooking crepes for a steady flow of customers.
And despite the need to relax her neck at the end of the day, she loves sharing crepes — the thin pancakes considered a French national dish — with the people of Chapel Hill.
“The crepe is something very seductive, and like a pizza it’s something that’s difficult to live without,” King said. “It’s so convenient, comfortable and easy, and that’s what I like about the crepe.”
King has three employees who work at the cash register and tend to customers while she prepares each order. She mixes the batter and pours it onto hot skillets, evening the mixture out until it’s thinly and uniformly spread.
Finally she adds cheese, ham or other ingredients the order calls for.
The menu is small but traditional, similar to an old-fashioned Parisian créperie. It offers savory crepes — filled with salty items such as cheese, eggs or mushrooms — and sweet crepes, which include ingredients such as chocolate, bananas, apples or caramel.
She also serves a crepe of the day, which King says is her favorite.
“Every morning I think it is my best,” King said. “Today it was collard greens, marinated in tomatoes and with black olives. You could say that’s the diet one.”
King has made crepes most of her life. Many French people learn the art of the crepe from an early age, she said.
Most of the ingredients at Crêpes Véronique come from local farms. King gets ingredients from Ayrshire Farm in Pittsboro, the state’s first certified organic farm.
“The crepe is real food,” she said. “You start with the flour, milk and egg, and then whatever you put inside it is still real food. I think it’s a food that’s essential.”
King’s business has attracted loyal customers, including Susan Rains, who works for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours. She leads groups of people to several restaurants during her tours, where they sample food and meet with owners.
“Everyone loves it when we stop at Crêpes Véronique,” Rains said. “On two occasions we came here one night, and some of the people in the group came back to eat the next day.”
And King’s warm, talkative persona wins customers over just as much as her food.
Evan Shapiro, a UNC junior, visited Crêpes Véronique with friends earlier in the fall.
He ordered a traditional crepe, and King came out to serve it, Shapiro said.
“It doesn’t feel commercial at all,” he said. “It’s very local and real — I can watch her make the crepes herself right behind the counter.
“Plus, she’s French so she knows what’s she doing.”
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