Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France

by Craig Carlson


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Paris was practically perfect-although for Craig Carlson one thing was still missing: the good ol' American breakfast he loved so much.

Craig was the last person anyone would have expected to open an American diner in Paris. He came from humble beginnings in a working-class town in Connecticut, had never worked in a restaurant, and didn't know anything about starting a brand-new business. But from his first visit to Paris, Craig knew he had found the city of his dreams.

Pancakes in Paris is the story of Craig tackling the impossible-from raising the money to fund his dream to tracking down international suppliers for "exotic" American ingredients, and even finding love along the way. His diner, Breakfast in America, is now a renowned tourist destination, and the story of how it came to be is just as delicious and satisfying as the classic breakfast that tops its menu.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492632122
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 745,383
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Craig Carlson is the owner and founder of Breakfast in America, the first American-style diner in Paris, which has been featured in the Lonely Planet and Frommer's travel guides.

Donald Corren is a stage, television, and voice actor whose work has been featured on and off Broadway, in regional theaters, behind animated characters, and on television for the past three decades. Trained in the theater division at Juilliard, he is also a writer whose credits include the original Martha Stewart Living television series and the medals ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Customer Reviews

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TessT More than 1 year ago
Generally I very seldom read anything except cozy mysteries, but Craig Carlson may have changed my mind. After being raised in a dysfunctional family in upstate New York, Craig had to fight his way through most of his life to reach his lifelong dream. Paris. From his chance to go to France on a student study program in college, to his winning stint on Wheel Of Fortune, but having to sell it all to pay the taxes on it. From the L.A. riots in 1992 to his Paris dream coming true and finding the love of his life, Craig has captured my heart. Thanks Craig. FTC Full Disclosure - A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The above made this book so page turning I couldn't stop, one calamity after success and more calamity! What it takes to make a dream come true.
B-loNY More than 1 year ago
Better man than I
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
VERDICT: Eye-opening memoir of an American living his dream to open a restaurant in Paris. Meet the real France. This is basically the memoir of Craig Carlson, and what events in his life led him to become the owner of the Paris restaurant chain, “Breakfast in Paris.” Former Hollywood screenwriter, Craig grew up in a poor and unstable family, where he learned very early to fence for himself. He soon developed a love for the French language and managed to spend time in France (Paris, Rouen, Dijon) during his studies. Though he totally fell in love with France, he realized there was one thing he missed: “a good ol’ American breakfast“, so he knew he had to open an American diner in Paris. With all its ancient buildings, Paris had a wonderful way of reminding you how quickly life goes by, how we’re all just passing through— while at the same time, it forces you to slow down and enjoy every precious moment while you can. chapter 6 Not a business man, he had to learn everything from scratch. The book presents in detail all the hurdles he had to go through: about the name of the restaurant, its location, how to find money and investors, how to set up an LLC in France, how to get a loan from French banks, and how to deal with French lawyers. If you think this is tough in the US, read this book!! Everything was super complicated and slow moving, but thanks to perseverance, and help from colleagues and friends, his dream successfully came true. Craig has currently 3 restaurants in Paris. In the process, he also found love. This was a real eye opener about the complexity, craziness, and inconsistency of work laws in France (see for instance chapter 14, greatly titled “French labor pains). Being French, I knew some of it, but just a tiny portion of it! And as for French employees… Yes, I know from experience how slow they can be and unreliable, but I didn’t know how easy it could be for them to tweak laws to their advantage. Craig gives the unbelievable example of this guy who manged to use all the loopholes in laws to get as many paid weeks off as possible (and there were a lot!), without the employer having much recourse possible. Chapter 19 on all the different kinds of inspectors (work, health, sidewalk, liquor, music and language!) is hilarious, well, as long as you are just a reader and not the one having to receive them in your restaurant! The author does a great job at highlighting cultural differences between our two countries, in food and other areas. We couldn’t help but notice how everyone in America seemed to scurry about, trying to please you. On the contrary, service workers in Paris often treat customers as nuisances who get in the way of their gab sessions. And just try requesting something—anything— from a Parisian. Before you’ve had a chance to get the words out of your mouth, you’re given the ol’ French motto: “C’est pas possible!” chapter 6 The book is also an interesting history piece, as Craig’s drama enfolds on the background of sometimes tough relationships between the US and France, especially during the Iraq War.
ThoughtsFromaPage More than 1 year ago
Craig Carlson wrote Pancakes in Paris about fulfilling his dream of opening an American breakfast restaurant in Paris named Breakfast in America. While I enjoyed the book, I wished the beginning sections about his early life and the in depth details about funding, etc. of Breakfast in America could have been condensed a fair amount. I enjoyed the book more once he got to the operations in Paris. I loved reading about Paris and the people there and liked learning about the labor laws in France and operational issues he encountered. Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks of the chance to read this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
PamPeerceLanders More than 1 year ago
"Pancakes in Paris" is Craig Carlson's delightful, enjoyable true story of how he realized his dream of opening an authentic American diner in Paris called "Breakfast in America." His writing style is engaging and I felt as if he were in my home relating his experiences to me personally. I found it impossible to put down and read it in a few hours. Carlson starts at the beginning with his childhood. His mother was bipolar and his father was an alcoholic womanizer. Consequently, he and his siblings spent much of their time with one of two grandmothers, Lizzy or Mary. Both were characters, but neither were especially affectionate, so Craig spends much of his life craving a real family experience. While this may sound sad, he relates it humorously with many laugh-out-loud moments, such as his description of Mary's cooking. He quickly learned he could not rely on his family for money, so he take two paper routes, shoveled snow in the winter, doing everything industrious boys do to make money. His experience with his father inspires him to do well in high school and get into UConn. He could just barely pay the in-state tuition and was all set to start, when the school notified him that his Dad, who had moved to Massachusetts with his girlfriend, had claimed him as a dependent on his federal income tax return for the deduction. This made him out-of-state and subject to much higher, unaffordable for him, tuition. Craig is able convince the UConn he never lived in Mass and they reclassify him as a Connecticut resident. This is the first of many obstacles Craig overcomes. In his Junior year, he joins a group of 38 students and goes to France for a year to study at a university in Rouen. The deal was 5 weeks of total immersion French lessons in Paris and then off to Rouen to study and live with a French family. Originally, his main motivation was to live with a family: mother, father, brother, sister, cat and dog, but he fell in love with Paris, especially its cinemas where he spent much of his free time. On arriving in Rouen, his dreams of living with a real family are crushed when he and another guy are assigned to live with Madame Yvary. His description of their living quarters and meals is hysterical. While at Rouen, he and some other students go to Dijon for its annual Foire Gastronomique. It is here that he finally gets to taste fine French cooking and learns about wine. After returning to the states and graduating from UConn, he decided to attend USC's film school. While working as a script writer, he runs into a friend from USC who tells him about a job in France. He applies and gets it. He is going back home! It is during this trip that he has his epiphany. He realizes that the only thing he really misses when he is in France is a good, hardy American breakfast. It is then that he begins his journey to open an American diner in Paris, "Breakfast in America." The rest of the book describes all the problems he encounters trying to live his dream, starting with his chosen name for the diner--turns out to the title of a popular Supertramp song. The author relates his problems raising money, dealing with legal issues, finding a suitable location, dealing with the architect and tradesmen, finding suppliers and dealing with the French police and various inspectors with humor and poignancy. While he established lasting relationships with many employees who formed the family he always carved, others cruelly took advantage of France's rest
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
Craig Carlson, owner of the Breakfast in America restaurant chain, has penned his memoir, Pancakes in Paris. He opens with a little bit of his early years, but mostly deals with his herculean effort to open a diner in Paris, France. From the moment he steps onto French soil, he feels he is home, but he faces a daunting task in trying to achieve his dream of opening an American style diner. Between the crazy French labor laws and all the inspectors he has to deal with, it’s a wonder he didn’t throw in the towel. It’s a testament to his resilience and sheer determination to succeed. It’s a humorous, entertaining story generously sprinkled with French words and phrases. It also has some recipes at the back of the book including his personal favorite, CC”s Big Mess.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I smiled and laughed way too much through this poor guy's trials and tribulations. I felt so bad, but he wrote in such a way that you could not help it. It's not a woe is me book. He does describe all his problems, but he doesn't linger on them. He complains how the system works and how unfair it is, but he just goes on trying to fulfill his dream. I enjoyed reading and living Craig's dream. I found it to be very entertaining and interesting. It's amazing what people will do. Those French laws were definitely set up for the employees and not the employers. I am so hungry for an American diner breakfast right now. HA! This is one memoir that I truly enjoyed and would definitely recommend. I also enjoyed the fact that it took place in Paris. One place that I always wanted to go, but never made it. Thanks Sourcebooks and Net Galley for providing a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. This was definitely a winner in my opinion!
IoanaN More than 1 year ago
I was surprised to see I didn't get bored while reading this book. I am not one interested in reading about people's businesses, about how they fulfilled their dreams and passions, and the process of all that. What drew me to this book was "pancakes". This is what set in motion the narrator's business idea, too: to open a classic American diner outside US, in Paris, France. It sounds charming and exciting, but reading about all the things he had to go through to make it happen makes one realize this was no small task. I appreciated his honesty and openness: he wrote about his bad decisions, his failed attempts to make ideas work, his missed opportunities in love - all these give the book authenticity. I read this book at a point in my life where I needed a nudge to go after what I want. This sure is a nudge, but a realistic one, telling you bluntly that there is no place for dreamers, but only for workers who are willing to roll their sleeves and get to work. By telling his life story and letting the reader in by revealing the background of his childhood, the author makes the book even more personal and honest. I liked how he looked back and saw how all the hard things in his childhood and early years of adulthood were teaching moments for what he planned to make in Paris. This memoir is a recommendation for those interested in opening their business or reading about the behind the scenes of a restaurant running, those interested in food, and those who like a straight-forward told memoir. I received a free e-book copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley. All thoughts expressed here are my own.