Belize City has plenty of cake spots and bakeries around the mini-metro; think no-fuss favorites like Belizean Jam Rolls from Dit’s Restaurant or ham & cheese stuffed jalapeño Johnny Cakes for a brisk breakfast from Le Petite Cafe onsite of Radisson Ft. George Hotel & Marina. But look a little closer, and there’s one newcomer carving out a space refined for a new level of perfectionism in baked goods. Owned by Einar Marin, Bleu Bakery is nestled in the residential West Landivar area, quickly blossoming into a mini-powerhouse pumping out croissants and other well-loved breakfast pastries alongside meticulous petit fours.
The small menu is a wonderful union of influences from European pastries (welcomed, because butter makes everything better) to glorious Mexican panaderías. Either way, Bleu Bakery doesn’t take shortcuts when it comes to quality or creativity. In 2018, Marin won Pastry Chef of the Year by the Belize Tourism Board, along with their Innovation Challenge in 2021. Today, we’re chatting one-on-one with Chef Einar on how Belize is perfect for epicureans. After all, a destination as diverse as Belize is bound to reflect a vast range of cuisines—pastries included.
From Le Cordon Bleu to a Bleu Bakery
At only 25 years old, Einar Marin pursued an obsession with baked goods (which began as early as 10 years old) at Le Cordon Bleu Mayab in Merida, Mexico in 2016, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Gastronomy. The concept of Bleu by Einar Marin was launched in April 2020 after shadowing some of the best in the business, including Chef Eli of Merida in 2018; Chef Nico of Cancun in 2018, Chef Oriol Balaguer of Barcelona, Spain in 2019; and Chef Kuylen of Belize in 2021. Motivated, Marin catered out of his home during the peak of the pandemic as the then-closed Mexico-Belize border forced him to complete his degree remotely.
Picture it: home-bound with newfound skills and thousands of potential customers anchored to their homes scrolling through the app, Marin’s macarons and profiteroles on full display lit up Marin’s DMs. Instagram-driven food startups have proliferated across Belize (and frankly, the world) since the onset of COVID-19, particularly for a chef-turned-pandemic entrepreneur. Bleu Bakery opened with a brick-and-mortar location in mid-November 2021 where his team, now 6-persons strong, churns out a tight collection almost daily.
“Opening day, we sold out by 10 a.m. On our second day, our oven essentially went into shock from the capacity—we were forced to close three weeks [for repairs]. Then after reopening in mid-December, we had to close just three days later with six of our staff out with COVID.”
On January 4, 2022, Bleu reopened with an even larger menu, including familiar comforts like bread pudding and frappucinos. If anything, it’s a story of resiliency—a thread that weaves throughout the entire service industry.
But first, dessert
It’s an atypical yet cozy space; fluted wooden slat panels stack vertically to accentuate other natural elements, like its menu with stackable letters and a floating half-moon at the entryway; tucked just below the brand’s icy-blue cursive signage, this semi-circle seat doubles as a perfect photo-op, strategically plotted with the help of local interior designer April Buoloy. When asked what inspired the name and sign, Marin attributes the term Bleu to his alma mater.
“In France, Bleu refers to the best of the best. That’s what we aim to be in the industry.”
“The logo itself is inspired by a river that flows in Belize,” he continues. Bleu is walking distance from Seashore Drive’s BELIZE sign, a private hospital, and the University of Belize.
Display cases and coolers are stocked with grab-and-go treats like cream cheese stuffed brioche rolls, a tender rendition of sausage rolls known as kolaches, conchas, and his signature (and every bit flaky) croissants. Conchas—named after their sweet, scored streusel topping in the shape of a seashell—is fluffy, brioche-like bread that’s widely known as pan dulce. Fitting, considering they’re typically eaten at breakfast time with a mug of hot chocolate or coffee.
And yes, hot chocolate is even available. Marin sources all his single-origin chocolate products, including this famous hot chocolate mix, from the Belize Chocolate Company, a local company spearheaded by husband and wife chocolatiers Chris and Jo Beaumont. Sourcing and producing directly from small cacao farms in the Toledo District still operating under traditional (sustainable) Mayan farming techniques to this day, the couple opened the first chocolate boutique in the country with their San Pedro, Ambergris Caye location.
But that’s not the only local partnership: locally-produced Greek yogurt from Trey’s Barn & Grill is the main ingredient in the Vanilla-Bean Basque Cheesecake, which Marin admits is his personal favorite. Its competition? “The lemon pie croissant. Growing up, my mom would always buy lemon tarts, a classic Belizean dessert. I decided to create a croissant that incorporates fresh citrus. It pairs with a smooth and sweet torched Italian meringue.”
On Sundays, Bleu Bakery transforms into a bustling brunch babe, where the signature fresh croissants get stuffed savory; inside, find bacon + egg, ham + cheese, and pibil—a slow-cooked Yucatán-influenced and recado-seasoned pull-apart pork. Inside seats 12 comfortably.
The cult classics and when to get them.
Small and understated, Bleu Bakery brings the excellence and artistry of formal European technique to the neighborhood of West Landivar in northside Belize City. Go for the signature lemon pie stuffed croissant, stay for the Opera—a tiramisu lover’s dream come true with layers of coffee cake cushioned between coffee mousse & cremeaux. My two words of advice for anyone that wants to get their hands on soft kolaches, fluffy cinnamon rolls, or any one of the signature chilled desserts: Go early. Closed Mondays but open during the week from 7 a.m., patrons can dine-in, pick up, or get take-out through delivery partners like BelizeOn D’Way. If only every day could start with a perfect brioche donut and an Americano.