When Alon Balshan opened the doors of his Atlanta bakery and market in 1992, he did so on a tight budget. The dream, however, was expansive. Since then, Balshan has shared his passion for bold, rich European flavors and made-from-scratch confections with doting Atlantans.
“I love being in the kitchen, creating delicious items for people to enjoy and drawing inspiration from bakeries around the world to bring the best tastes to Atlanta,” Balshan says.
After attending culinary school and gaining experience in bakeries throughout his homeland in Israel, Balshan bought a one-way ticket to the United States, arriving with only $500 in his pocket. He found a home in the South and soon made his dream of owning his own bakery a reality with Alon’s Bakery and Market, located in Atlanta’s Virginia Highland neighborhood.
Balshan quickly became Atlanta’s guru of all things sweet, including one of his favorite creations - handcrafted chocolates.
His famous dark chocolate truffles and seasonal chocolates are infused with ingredients such as apple, sesame crunch, fig-port, fresh mint and ginger orange.
Together with his wife, Janine, Balshan has developed his bakery business into a complete gourmet market that now offers a variety of artisan cheeses, prepared foods and fine wines, in addition to sweet treats.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I have been in the kitchen since I was 12 years old, cooking all sorts of things and trying out different cakes. I also played with chemistry sets and did all kinds of science experiments. I combined my two childhood passions and studied the science of food.
Name your favorite movies.
“The Matrix” is definitely at the top. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a very funny cultural movie that reminds me where I’m from. “Planet of the Apes” is a childhood favorite.
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Any vacation by the ocean is great for me - Italy’s Amalfi Coast or Indonesia in a five-star hotel. I love to go out fishing and eat and drink well. A great vacation must include day trips around the area to mix with the locals and really submerge in the local culture.
What book are you currently reading?
My reading is usually professional books, which range from Jean Pierre Wybauw to Ramon Morató.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
I’m married, so I can’t answer!
What’s your pet peeve?
Carelessness and no attention to detail peeve me.
I’d give anything to meet:
I would love to meet and work with Pierre Hermé.
Best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
Open your own business now (at 30 years old) because you will not have the energy later. That came from my mentor, Mr. Hollander.
What excites you most about your job?
I can never find the boundaries between my job and my hobby.