Jenna Roberts in her kitchen. Submitted photo

Jenna Roberts started Marvelous Macarons after an unlikely start and a lot of late nights.

The results so far? A tasty new business.

Name: Jenna Roberts

Age: 33

Lives: Born and raised in Lewiston!

What’s your baking background? I do not have any formal training and I didn’t go to school for it, though it has always been in my blood. My grandfather used to own a catering company and deli that was pretty famous around here, Friend’s Deli. My father also went to culinary school. It’s really funny because when I was younger I was known for being a “disaster” in the kitchen — I almost burned down my house making mac and cheese, as well as once making Christmas cookies with no sugar in high school. If someone from the future came when I was 16 and told my family I would be a baker or working in a kitchen when I grow up, they would have laughed in their face.

I didn’t start baking until my nephew was turning 2 and, at the time, no one around here was making cakes like they do now. A lot of the baking shows were just starting to come out. There was no Pinterest, and YouTube DIY’s were brand new. He wanted a guitar cake and we didn’t know anyone who could do it, so I said, “How hard can it be?” Little did I know it was ridiculously hard. I made the cake; took me a week, but I did it. We thought it was absolutely the best cake we had ever seen but looking back, it looks like my 8-year-old nephew made it. After that I became obsessed, begging people to let me make their cakes for free so I could gain experience.

Marvelous Macarons’ macaron rainbow. Submitted photo

How did Marvelous Macarons get its start? And why macarons? Marvelous Macarons got started while I was in between jobs. I have been obsessed with macarons for a long time. It’s not something just anyone can make, like a cupcake — it takes a lot of patience to figure out how to make them. I knew I wanted the perfect macaron recipe, so I began testing recipes. It took me a good month to get it perfect. There were a lot of macaron fails and a lot of stressful moments. When I finally got it the way I wanted, I started giving them to people. Friends would give them to friends or co-workers, and people would start to call me. They would ask me if I sold them. It was a very organic thing. I was making them and people just started buying and ordering. Before you knew it I had a full-blown business.

What’s your process for coming up with new flavors? I think it’s my favorite part, picking out new flavors and pairing it with fun colors. I get new flavors everywhere: I see a dessert, a cereal, an ice cream, a coffee flavor, and I think, “How can I make that into a macaron?” I will break down the dessert: What flavor is it, are there different textures in it? I love making macarons in flavors that people know or flavors that make you feel nostalgic.

I think I spy . . . Corgi and unicorn shapes?! Experimenting with any other cookie shapes? Yes! New shapes are also so much fun to come up with. This is my new obsession. When I see something and I want to make it, I will work tirelessly until I figure out how it is done. Macarons are not easy, let alone shaped macarons, but it’s my newfound love. The corgi and unicorn macarons I am obsessed with, and I have so many fun shapes in store for the summer and fall and Christmas . . . yes, I have already thought about what I want to do for Christmas. I cannot wait to share these fun new shapes. You guys will love it!

How’d #EATFANCY start? #EATFANCY was something my daughter came up with on accident. I had just started my Instagram account and I was enlisting the help of my 11-year-old daughter and 13- and 9-year-old nieces because I am “old.” They told me it was basically all about the hashtag — I needed to hashtag everything and come up with my own hashtag. My daughter asked if people who liked macarons always “eat fancy.” I was like BOOM there it is. I was like, “No, they don’t always eat fancy, but macarons are high-end and everyone deserves to pamper themselves once in a while. . . Even when they are eating snacks, they deserve to #EATFANCY.”

An early lesson or two from starting your own business that you could pass on to another entrepreneur? I would say make it your obsession! I have been “baking” for about 10 years now. I have put everything I have into it. After my daughter was in bed, I was baking. If she was in school and I was not working, I was baking. I am constantly staying up on what is trending. Know what your client base wants. There have been nights where I am up ’til 3 or 4 a.m. and then up at 7 a.m. Sometimes it will feel like you’re not getting anywhere and you will want to quit or give up. Just stick with it and keep going because you’re almost there.

What’s your prep look like gearing up each week for the Lewiston’s Farmers Market? The farmers market has been amazing. Monday I am doing the “change over,” reorganizing the kitchen, making sure my pans are prepped and ready, coming up with next week’s flavors and doing my shopping or Amazon ordering for the week. Tuesday is preparing the fillings, making buttercream and fruit compotes or homemade jellies for the fillings. Anything filling gets done or prepped on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I start baking macarons, and cakes if I have any that weekend. I like to be done by Saturday night in a perfect world. If I have a lot of cake orders or a lot of pre-ordered macarons, it is not uncommon for me to be up till 2 or 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night. Sunday after the farmers market, I relax. I also have an amazing boyfriend who helps me stay organized.

You’ve carefully packed up all of your macarons and there are six broken ones on your counter that didn’t make the retail cut. No one is watching. Do you eat all of the broken ones? This question makes me laugh. I literally have family members who stalk me for broken or “extra macarons” — it’s almost as if they can smell them not going into the box. Macarons are very delicate, so it doesn’t take much to break them. I usually have a “broken” container at the end of boxing them up, and you better believe that they are all calling me on Sunday morning asking where the broken box is.

If by chance they were all out of town and I just so happen to have a second where no one was stalking me for them and no one was really around, haha, I would absolutely eat all the broken ones!

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