Baker launches Double Turn Pastries in Wilton after working at three Michelin star restaurant

WILTON — Early this month, Francesca Costa pulled back into her Chicken Street home after accomplishing a milestone she had been eyeing for six months — she’d delivered the first batches of her baked goods to locals who had ordered the sweet treats straight from her newly-minted website.

And although these high-quality pastries were baked by Costa, a professional pastry chef who earned her chops in the kitchens of both high-merit bakeries and restaurants in Manhattan, they were not prepared in an expensive commercial kitchen.

Rather, the opposite is true. Upon moving to Wilton in December 2020, Costa brainstormed ways to continue pursuing her childhood passion of baking to make it the one thing she woke up excited to do everyday. Realizing she had everything she needed to start her own direct-to-consumer pastry delivery box business, which she calls Double Turn, she began whipping up plans — and pastries — to deliver to her newfound neighbors. Her website, Doubleturn.co, has already sold out of the pastry boxes in the first two weeks.

“The first week was a bit of a soft launch,” Costa said. “I went around the streets by my house, I distributed fliers to get the word out. I found that this has also been such a great way to start to get to know people (in Wilton).”

The relatively new Wilton resident said she is excited to plant her roots in the quaint suburban town. But the road the pastry chef has taken to get to both Wilton and Double Turn started in the north of Italy.

“I am from Northern Italy, in a small town right between Milan and Venice,” Costa explained. “I moved to the U.S. nine years ago, but it is a little bit of a crazy story.”

The Italian native reminisced over desiring to backpack through the United States just after graduating university with a degree in Italian literature.

Her first stop was Chicago. “I just picked it as my starting point,” she said.

And while in the very first city of her backpacking tour across the country, she found her now-husband, William Dague, then a University of Chicago student.

“I backpacked a lot less than I had planned after I met him. I spent a lot of time in Chicago,” she recalled with a chuckle.

She returned home to Italy, only to come back and marry Dague in 2012.

Costa and Dague, a native of Enfield, moved around to different areas of the region, living at points in Connecticut, and at other points in Manhattan and Long Island City, N.Y.

All the while, Costa was trying to find her niche.

“Majoring in Italian literature didn't do much for me,” she said, adding that she worked multiple jobs that didn’t challenge her creatively. “I wanted to find my calling.”

She said she reflected on what made her happy. Growing up, she admitted, it was baking.

Raised cooking traditional northern Italian dishes and experimenting with desserts, Costa found a passion for crafting her culinary creations from the oven. It was something that connected her to her familial upbringing and brought out the creative passion in her.

She finally then decided to enroll herself in the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York in 2018. Initially, she didn’t quit her day job. After a few months, she was sure it was the direction she wanted to move in her life. She said she finally found her calling and quit her job to focus on baking.

From there, Costa went on to work at Levain Bakery in the Upper West Side.

“I loved the mentality of (the industry),” she said. “That's when my journey in this industry started.”

Then wishing to move over into gaining restaurant kitchen experience, she joined the pastry team at Manhatta in the Financial District.

Finally, Costa was hired to be a member of the pastry team at Eleven Madison Park, a world-renowned restaurant that has earned three Michelin stars.

“That was a huge challenge for me, but it was worth every second. I learned some super cool techniques from a team of immensely talented professionals. It was an invaluable time for me,” Costa said. “I stayed there until March 2020. I lost my job when the restaurant closed.”

When the pandemic forced the closure of the restaurant, Costa said she took the time to learn a lot about herself. Understanding that the food service industry was likely to undergo some rough months ahead, she admitted she began experiencing “unsettling” feelings. The most important lesson she took from those few months after, though, came from reflecting on how far she had come in a relatively short culinary career. She said those lessons were to trust her gifts and talents and to continue following her passion.

All the while, Costa and Dague were looking to move out of New York City. After months of house hunting, they found Wilton and were instantly smitten.

They moved in on Dec. 15 of last year. Shortly thereafter, Costa said she decided that she was no longer going to wait to make a move back into the pastry world. Much like the rest of the world, Costa took her rolling pins and measuring cups and decided she, too, would work from home.

“I started researching, by law, what I could bake from my kitchen and then sell. There is a limitation on what you can offer,” she said, referencing Connecticut Cottage Food Laws, which dictate strict regulations be placed around temperature-controlled items being sold from a home kitchen. “Once I nailed down what my vision was, I began researching packaging, marketing, making business cards and even building a website, which was a huge accomplishment for me.”

From there, cookies, cakes and scones, among other pastries, became Costa’s business model.

Double Turn Pastries is Costa’s first business and is a love letter to the traditional home baking that she had done growing up in Northern Italy bolstered by the newfound high-level skills she earned cutting her teeth in sought-after pastry kitchens in Manhattan.

Now she spends her weekdays prepping in her home kitchen to fill the orders placed on her website that have sold out in both of the small business’s opening weeks. She delivers the $25 boxes herself on Fridays and Saturdays.

Currently, the inaugural box available contains sable sandwich cookies, mini pear gateau breton, chocolate chip mini scones and Baci di Dama. She said that she will continue to switch up the pastry variations every three to four weeks to give enough of a chance for customers to try the current selection.

As Costa’s full-time gig now, she clearly hopes it is successful. But beyond the sales numbers, she said she is really just focused on bringing happiness to her neighbors via something she created through her passion of baking, and that is enough.

“I wanted a job that really gives me joy. I wanted to wake up and do that job, and do it everyday,” Costa said. “Even if it is so simple to others, just bringing the pastry boxes to (those who ordered them) has already given me a lot back. The few people I met in my deliveries last week, their smiles, that makes me very happy. I just hope people will be able to feel that.”