January 2019

John Shelsta’s Instagram account says it all: @loveforbutter. Known for his pastries — and, in particular, croissants — John wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after graduating from Menlo-Atherton High School. “I’d been around cooking, but I never thought of making it a career.”

But that he has done. He’s now at Zola in Palo Alto, working with chef/owner Guillaume Bienaime, who he met while working as a cook at the now closed Marché in Menlo Park. He drifted into pastry because, he says, “it seemed easier to find a job as a pastry chef.”

John has long used pop ups to sell pastry, first outside of Kristi Borrone’s restaurant in Woodside, Station One (now under different ownership and called The Firehouse Bistro).”I’d put a table out front and sell out,” he recalls.

By the time he was doing pop ups at Zola, his pastries had become well known and the line would stretch for a couple of blocks. “People appreciate a good pastry,” he says, and he views baking “as a healthy way to share with people.”

John lived in Hawaii for a year, flying back once a month to do his pop ups before returning to California and landing at Zola about a year ago. While he’s glad to be back in the kitchen, he says his ultimate goal is is to open a small cafe/bakery somewhere on the mid-Peninsula. Given that he doesn’t have financial backing — and that a bakery needs space for an oven and a refrigerator — achieving that goal may take some time.

“I’m hoping to find something a little off the beaten path but accessible,” he says. “I haven’t been as aggressive as I could be. But I’m optimistic that when the timing is right, I’ll find that needle in the haystack.”

And John’s pastry fans will be glad when he does. Meanwhile they can enjoy the full breadth of his cooking at Zola.

Photo by Irene Searles (c) 2018

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Rain pounds Menlo Park rooftops overnight

While the rain on Tuesday wimped out, the skies opened up overnight in Menlo Park last night. Reports InMenlo weather watchers Sally and Bill Russ: “The rain gauge this morning showed more than the weatherman predicted [we love more] and we had .6” as of 5:50 this morning. That is a season to date of […]

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Henry Winkler delights Sacred Heart School lower school kids with wit, wisdom – and stories

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Atherton resident Lou Matas celebrates his 105th birthday at Harry’s Hofbrau

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Artist Mitchell Johnson’s paintings on display in downtown Menlo Park

Menlo Park-based artist Mitchell Johnson is having his first gallery show in seven years. Titled Far Away, So Close: Selected Paintings 1988-2018, the collection includes 10 paintings that are headed to museums around the country and newer paintings that are for sale. “It’s a chance for people to understand how I got to this point,” […]

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First Friday on Feb. 1st presents Jaeger & Reid at Woodside Town Hall

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Mission Hospice celebrates 40th anniversary and names Lisa Deal new CEO

Yesterday, more than 200 people gathered at the Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club in Menlo Park to celebrate Mission Hospice & Home Care’s 40 years of caring for the local community. The nonprofit organization also introduced Atherton resident Lisa Deal as its new CEO, and honored outgoing CEO Dwight Wilson for his decade of […]

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Country Corner in Menlo Park is burglarized overnight

Posting on Nextdoor, Issa Wehab of the Country Corner wrote: “Our store got broken into early Saturday morning at 4:30 am. They stole the bread, kicked in the door and took cigarettes, cash, coins, etc. Cleaned us out pretty good. “They drove in from the north on Alameda and left going southbound on Alameda. I […]

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Menlo Park City Council seeks public input for Feb. 2 goal setting session

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Robotic workshops for grade schoolers begin at Menlo Park Library on Feb. 2

In these workshops, MathandCoding teachers will introduce students (3rd – 6th grade) to the world of robotics engineering using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits, offering an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in robotics.  Students will learn to build and program robots. Note: This course is designed for kids with no experience in robotics. The workshops consist […]

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Daniel Engels is third generation involved with Gray’s Paints in Menlo Park

Daniel Engels has been the manager at Gray’s Paint in downtown Menlo Park for two years now. But that just scratches the surface of his involvement with the store. “I’m the third generation of my family to be part of this business,” he explained. “My grandfather, Bob Gray, opened the first store in Redwood City […]

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