Haley Russell pleases palates with traditional French dish

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Former cheerleader Haley Russell is now creating crepes you can cheer for. Her new Le Bon Temps Créperie has been going strong in Lake Oswego this summer.

Haley Russell is an authentic crepe chef. She has the certificate to prove it.

The 20-year-old Lake Oswego woman earned it two years ago on a vacation in France, and this summer she has been making her crepes for the gourmets and non-gourmets of Lake Oswego. She can be found along with her trusty mother (Nikki Davis) making crepes that are so fresh and good at the Lake Oswego Farmers Market on Saturdays and special events like Music in the Moonlight. Russell’s life has turned to crepe, and she likes it that way.

“Crepes are very different,” Russell said. “They’re not like you’ve heard, like a thin pancake or tortilla. The best thing is when kids watch a crepe being made. They’re in awe.”

Becoming a crepe queen was the furthest thing from Russell’s mind when she graduated from Lake Oswego High School in 2012. However, her mother desired that she take a road less traveled and not take a summer job at a burger shop.

“For my graduation gift she sent me on a trip to France, along with my grandmother (known as Grandma Duck),” Russell said. “She wanted me to go to a crepe academy. But I didn’t want to go to more school. I had just gotten out of high school. I wanted to go on vacation.”

As it turned out, mother knew best. France is the capitol of crepes, and Russell studied under the inimitable Madame Bernadette, at the Créperie de Kervengard in western France.

“She’s a lovely lady,” Russell said. “She’s the exact opposite of what most Americans think about French people. She was very kind and caring. She was very tiny and petite. She does speak English.”

In 10 days, Russell was a true disciple of Madam Bernadette, convinced that the classic French way was the only way to make crepes.

“I use a very traditional recipe,” Russell said. “My crepes are never rushed. They’re made to order. I hand mix my batter, and I take time and care. You can taste the difference.

“I make it with love. Madame Bernadette said you should make crepes with love, even if you’re having a bad day.”

Russell had a newfound love and skill regarding crepes, but when she returned to the United States she didn’t have a crepe career in mind. But over the next 18 months the concept of starting her own crepe business kept growing and growing. One decisive factor was that she worked in a crepe business for a year, and that convinced her that her way of making crepes was the best way. After several months of planning, the griddles fired up for Le Bon Temps Créperie (The Good Times Créperie) in May.

“I wanted to do my own thing,” Russell said. “I started getting excited about it. I wanted to make crepes the way I was taught in France.”

Her way included buying authentic crepe griddles from France and getting the finest, freshest and most organic ingredients. All of them come from this area, including produce from local farmers and flour from Bob’s Red Mill. Now, Russell makes 120 to 150 crepes within a five-hour period, and as she notes, “That’s a lot of spinning.”

Russell’s personality — fresh, open, intelligent and immediately engaging — is perhaps the best advertisement for her crepes, and for this she credits cheerleading. Even more than becoming a crepe chef, cheerleading transformed Russell’s life.

“I was so shy,” she said. “A friend convinced me to try out for cheerleader when I was a sophomore. My mom told me, ‘Oh, honey, if you don’t make the team it’s fine.’ I did make the team.”

Russell not only made the team, she became the cheerleader’s cheerleader. She rose to become cheer team captain, became a teacher of young girls who wanted to become cheerleaders and poured herself into activities that promoted school spirit and sports team morale.

Russell’s contribution was so great that at the 2012 school graduation awards ceremony she won the honor of “Most Committed.” However, she still had enough residual shyness that she turned bright red when the announcement was made.

“Cheerleading was a blast. It was a great experience,” Russell said. “Cheerleading brought me out of my shell. Now I want to give that experience to other kids.”

The future for Russell is crepes and cheerleading. She is working as a cheerleading instructor in Lake Oswego schools, and she is getting Le Bon Temps Créperie ready for expansion.

“If the new Wizer building gets built, Mr. Wizer wants to build a specialized crepe shop for us,” Russell said. “I talked to Patrick Kessi (developer for the proposed Wizer Block 137 project) and he said he would like to have more entrepreneurs like me. He thinks that would create a really fun atmosphere.”

Haley Russell herself is creating crepes that you can cheer for.

For more about Haley Russell and Le Bon Temps Creperie go to the website

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