Story by Laurel Brown
Photos by Laurel Brown
Whether you’re craving something sweet or planning a fancy party, Edeske Patisserie has you covered. The microbatch dessert shop recently opened a new storefront in downtown Hood River and are eager to share their authentic Belgian Chocolates and pastries with the community.
When I arrived to interview Co-Owners of Edeske Tamara Bartucz Biscardi and James Biscardi, I was greeted with warm smiles and a fresh cup of espresso. The couple were welcoming and truly kind, letting their passion for their work soak into every detail of their stories. From meeting on a ship in the Arctic to their mid-pandemic wedding in Hungary, they have come a long way in just a short time and I am excited to see how Edeske evolves over the next few years.
“Edeske” is Hungarian for “sweet little thing,” a personal touch from Tamara who is Hungarian. Their shop logo, a ginkgo biloba leaf, is also symbolic; her grandmother had a ginkgo biloba tree in her yard growing up, so both the name and logo are a sweet reminder of her roots. Tamara chose to study chocolates and desserts in the Netherlands beginning around the age of 20, where she focused as a pastry chef for four years and spent an extra year to master chocolate.
Her style lends to the shop’s identity as a patisserie and chocolatier rather than a bakery. “I chose pastries because I like to work with my hands and being able to create things. The chocolates and flavors give me room to be creative. The possibilities with desserts and chocolates is endless. Plus I like sweet stuff,” she said.
After moving to Hood River in early 2021, the two rented an incubator kitchen at Columbia Gorge Community College where Edeske began. Tamara’s chocolates and desserts quickly became a local favorite, particularly at the Hood River Farmer’s Market, and their new location is just a staircase away from the market lot. Both Tamara and James were adamant about the market’s support of Edeske since the start. “We got to see what other people have to sell and meet customers and local produce growers from the orchards in the Fruit Loop,” said James.
From seeing and sampling produce options to meeting local farmers and establishing community relationships, the market was a key place for them to make connections and find ingredients they could source locally. “The agriculture is the whole reason we picked Hood River. We pick our own fruits as well as the orchards and farms we work with,” Tamara said.
The owner-couple duo gathered such a positive response from the public that investing in a storefront in Hood River just made sense. “The community, especially the farmer’s market, has been incredible and they are really excited for us. Everyone has been so supportive, it makes Hood River the perfect place for our shop,” said Tamara, who is also Head Pastry Chef. She is excited to teach the community about her own styles and inspirations.
Tamara and James met in 2018 while both were working for the high end luxury cruise line Lindblad Expeditions. Tamara usually worked in 3-month intervals as the Head Pastry Chef while James worked as the company’s Videographer, traveling from ship to ship collecting footage for marketing and promotions. That year they met on a boat in the Arctic and fell in love.
After making long-distance work for about two years, the couple made plans to finally be together. Tamara sold all of her belongings and prepared for her last trip working for Lindblad, but when they arrived back home after the excursion, Covid was in full swing and international borders rapidly closing. She was forced to remain aboard the ship for another 8 weeks and had to push back any plans of visiting James. When she finally was allowed off the ship, Tamara found herself with no home, belongings, or job, so she moved in with family during the pandemic. She made a pact with James that one would visit the other as soon as one of their borders opened.
That border happened to be Hungary’s, and James snapped into action booking flights and reading international travel guidelines until he made it to her hometown. In 2020, James and Tamara got married with a small group of her family members in a centuries-old Turkish castle. “We tried to set up a livestream for my family back home but I set the camera up assuming everyone would be sitting, and everyone was standing, so it didn’t turn out so great,” James laughed.
Prior to getting married, the two had traveled the state of Oregon looking for the right place to settle in the future. They considered places like Bend, The Dalles, and Portland, but Hood River had the homey feeling and community clientele that was perfect for their vision. They acquired the LLC for Edeske Patisserie in 2021. “We got the LLC as soon as we moved in,” James said, also mentioning that they recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the business.
James and Tamara recently finished their kitchen build, complete with natural light and precise temperature control. The storefront is simple with an open layout so that guests can observe the chocolate-making process in real time. On a clear day, you can catch a view of the Gorge cliffs and the Columbia River.
Though they are excited to experiment and expand, they offer a range of desserts including chocolates, tartlets, croissants, authentic French-style macarons, layered mousse cakes, and extravagant dessert tables. “You can’t find what we do anywhere near here. Maybe if you drive to Portland you’ll find a few options,” James said. “We have ultra-refined recipes that Tamara has developed for years, and our new shop will allow for more styles and versatility.”
Items like mousse cakes and dessert spreads are available for custom order for large parties and weddings. “I will just ask you your favorite flavors and find a way to build them together,” Tamara said excitedly. She explained that her authentic macarons are naturally gluten free, and she can specialize her desserts for any kind of allergies.
Edeske is just beginning to blossom with their new storefront but you can still catch them at events such as Cider Fest and Mosier Spring Fest. “Right now our big focus is on being able to successfully open the storefront and scale up. We need to establish our presence in downtown and then work to build the business up,” James elaborated. They both agreed that quality over quantity is their priority.
Sustainability is also a priority at Edeske, and they plan to offer a discount for customers who return with their chocolate box for a refill rather than purchasing new packaging. The boxes are custom-made to snuggly fit the delicate sweets and avoid any movement or breaking during transportation. Another future goal the couple has is to find the best way to ship their chocolates outside of the Pacific Northwest region, as temperature changes affect the consistency and longevity of the chocolates.
When asked about her favorite dessert to make, Tamara struggled to pick just one. “My favorite thing to make is the layered mousse cake and then cutting into it because it’s one full dessert with separate flavors that you can taste on their own or together. I purposefully place each flavor for how you eat through the cake, and it’s labelled so you always know what you’re eating. I also love seeing the chocolates when they first come out,” she shared.
I enjoyed some of their amazing chocolates after the interview and, similarly to Tamara’s dilemma, I couldn’t pick just one favorite. My top must-try chocolates are the passion fruit dark-milk ganache, cookie butter, and Irish coffee with bourbon, and my overall experience pre-opening was divine. Edeske Patisserie is now open Thursday through Sunday from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. in downtown Hood River, 512 Cascade Avenue. Their official grand opening is planned for Mother’s Day and all other events are regularly updated on their captivating Instagram, @edeske_patisserie. They welcome contact via social media, email, or phone at (514) 716-1661.