Making the world a sweeter place…

An American honoring Paris.

Once a week, a farmer from Warren County delivers 100 dozen organic eggs to The Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands. Once a day, Marie Jackson tweaks her croissant dough, adjusting for atmospheric changes in heat and humidity — a process that’s part science and part art, and one that takes longer than eight hours each time.

Jackson has been told that neither effort makes much business sense, that organic eggs are too costly and that it is ridiculous for a shop owner to spend so much of her precious time on croissant dough. But Jackson, despite her degree in accounting, doesn’t care much about how America defines business sense. Her philosophy is more French.

Would a Frenchman ever in a million years cut corners? Buy a cheaper chocolate? “I aspire to be as good as my favorite pâtisserie in Paris.”

The Philosophy

It’s a philosophy that’s caught attention; Jackson this year was a James Beard semifinalist for best pastry chef.

assorted breads in basket

The Story

Humbled by the honor, Jackson defines herself as more of a baker than a pastry chef, caring more about tasting good than being fancy. At the shop, best-sellers include croissants (she’ll sell 150 on a summer Saturday morning), scones and brioche, plus fruit tarts, cakes and chocolate macaroons. (Plus a fun little “sand pail” of broken cakes and pastry crumbs, which has become a surprising dark-horse favorite.)

French macaroons with different colors

Third Year

The Flaky Tart marks its third year in business this month. And although Atlantic Highlands is no Paris, and Americans don’t come close to sharing the French attitude toward food, Jackson has been surprised by the response to her personal vision. People get it — from local bus drivers to former Parisians. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have or where you grew up. People know.”

brown bread on black tray


One warning: Jackson also follows the European model of fresh pastry, which means nothing gets saved overnight. Navigating that line — preparing just enough but not too much — can be tricky. So sometimes by the end of the day, or even in the middle of the afternoon, the favorites are already gone.

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