Rogerio “Roger” Martinho and Mirtha Sanchez are pastry chefs who live and work in Seattle. Specializing in French Macaron and Belgian Waffles, they are known for the consistently high quality of their work and for their firm grasp of pastry nuances.
Roger grew up in France, where he was trained in the kitchen by his Portuguese grandmother from an early age. He was taught how to bake cakes and breads while he was still only a child, and by the time he took his first job, at the Darrigand in Pau, France, he had become recognized locally as something of a prodigy. While working at the Darrigand, he also began his formal education at the Centre de Formation d’Apprentis of Chamber des Metiers et de l’Artisant. For three long years, this was his life: a full work schedule and a full school schedule. It was trying, but he stuck it out and came out a better chef on the other side, learning everything from basic kitchen upkeep to pastry and chocolate production.
1980 after Roger graduated from the Centre de Formation d’Apprentis Chamber des Metiers et de l’Aristant, he served in the French military as a commando parachutist before continuing to pursue his career. In 1983, he earned his Brevet de Maitrise (Master of Pastry). He went on from there to work under a number of established pastry chefs before launching his own business out of Liege, Belgium. At this small pastry shop, he served such classic Belgian desserts as tart au riz and such traditional French pastries as fruit mousse and specialty chocolate. Over the holiday time, he gained a stellar reputation for yule logs and his Waffle de Liege. On weekdays, he served mainly chocolatine and croissants, while the weekends were for mini puff pastry desserts.
In 1995, Roger ran into some family issues, issues that prevented him from maintaining his business as he had previously. He closed up shop and took on positions as a consultant for businesses based out of South Africa, Costa Rica, and Panama. During this time, he soaked up a wealth of knowledge with regards to other cultures and practiced his language skills, polishing his fluency in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English. He eventually took a job at Les Gourmandises de l’Arlequin in Montreal, Canada, where he remained for just a single year.
Mirtha, on the other hand, grew up in Mexico and immigrated to the United States when she was eighteen. While she was studying in Seattle, at Seattle community college she too ran into family issues, issues that forced her to take a break from school. It was during this time that she took her first job in a kitchen. Falling in love with the work immediately, she rose through the ranks quickly, overseeing a team of seven people at Dips in no time at all.
Having acquired useful experience at Dips, Mirtha took a more lucrative position at Parisian Star Desserts, a French pastry wholesaler. There, she was trained in decoration production and packaging by Pierre, the chef-owner of Parisian Star Desserts. Eleven years into her time at the company, it was sold to Essencial Baking Company, the executive pastry chef of which – Roger – she clicked with immediately.
Roger and Mirtha collaborated for a year before launching the Petite Bakery, operating out of farmers’ markets throughout the Seattle area. Now, as they look toward the future, all signs point to La Waffletz & Macaron Station, the company through which they produce authentic Belgian Waffles and French or Parisian Macarons that could easily pass as products fresh off a trip across the Atlantic from Europe.