A TASTE OF LIEGE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Originally created in the 18th century in Liege, Belgium, the Liege waffle is one of two types of Belgian waffles, the other type being the Brussels waffle. In the states, Brussels waffles are much more popular and widely served from chain eateries to more upscale establishments. It is because of their popularity and prevalence throughout eateries in the states that they have become synonymous with Belgian waffles, leaving the other half of the story, Liege waffles, in the dark and often forgotten. Those who are familiar with Liege waffles usually know of their existence because they have either traveled to Europe (where Liege waffles are much more popular) or are avid dessert foodies who do their research and actively seek out unique food items.
The differences between Liege and Brussels waffles are in their ingredients, equipment used, and preparation techniques. At first glance, it is very noticeable that Liege waffles are made from a richer dough, compared to the traditional batter used to make Brussels waffles. A key ingredient to Liege waffles is Belgian pearl sugar. When preparing the waffle dough, the pearl sugar is thoroughly mixed for a uniform distribution. When heated in a waffle iron, which must have very specific temperature controls as well as dedicated Liege waffle iron plates, the large pearl sugar pieces caramelize, producing a slightly crispy exterior and leaving the center soft, chewy, and delicately warm. Because of the pearl sugar and other sweet ingredients in the dough, Liege waffles are often enjoyed plain with a dusting of powdered sugar, although toppings like Nutella, Speculoos (a Belgian biscuit spread that tastes like ginger snaps), fresh fruit, whipped cream, and ice cream are always a welcome addition.
OH LOOK HONEY, A WAFFLE TRUCK (PLUS A WAFFLE STORE)
Founded on an uncharacteristically scorching hot day in September 2010, Waffles de Liege is the brain child of George Wu and Lawrence Tai. The idea of starting a food truck came to them earlier in the year but personal obligations kept them from really working on the idea until the fall season. Once everything else was squared away, they refocused on the idea and after months of research, weeks in test kitchens, and some financial assistance from their families, they were able to take their business plan and tower of notes and turn it into something very special. Yes, on the outside it’s a food truck that serves gourmet Liege waffles to people all over, but to them, it was a way to share their ideas, their goals, and their values with everyone. To them, it was something they could build on and expand without sacrificing quality and service. They wanted these two areas to be the focal point of their business because they believed that the only way for a company to grow into something substantial was to address things that customers cared about the most. Their vision for Waffles de Liege is to be much more than just a great place to eat and experience exceptional service. It’s to build a company that makes all the right decisions and benefits all the right people, all while continuing to grow and inspire its business partners, customers, and employees.
Waffles de Liege separates itself from the rest by freshly-producing their own waffle dough using only natural ingredients. The recipe we use is our own, and unlike other establishments, we shun frozen dough because we believe that it just does not capture the essence of a true Liege waffle the same way a hot, freshly prepared waffle brings to the table. Yes, it is more convenient to purchase frozen dough, both logistically and storage-wise, but we wanted to take the path less traveled. We feel that there really is no other way to serve Liege waffles than to make them fresh and serve them fresh. We hope that our customers can taste and appreciate the difference.
UPDATE: As of November 15, 2014, Waffles de Liege’s first brick and mortar location is open in Old Pasadena off Fair Oaks and Holly (21 E. Holly St). All of your favorite Liege waffle items, Fosselman’s ice cream, and Heart Roasters coffee in one, permanent space! Dreams do come true.
ABOUT THE CO-FOUNDERS
George Wu, a UC Irvine alumni, got his first start in small business as the founder and owner of a boutique e-commerce company. Armed with a degree in Biology, he decided to put his medical school aspirations on hold to take advantage of the opportunity that was Waffles de Liege. While not usually on the “to-do” list for medical school requirements, George shares the same passion he has for medicine with entrepreneurship. The thing about being an entrepreneur that excites him the most is all the amazing possibilities that come with starting a new company, no matter how big or how rare. Networking is also very interesting as it allows George to share his passion and ideas with individuals who share the same mindset. All this eventually lead George to the food truck business, where he co-founded Waffles de Liege with Lawrence Tai, a long-time friend from high school. Although new to the blossoming food truck scene in Southern California, George remains excited about meeting and working with new people and at the same time, developing not only a great truck, but also a great company that can, hopefully, one day lead by example and inspire everyone who’s involved with it. George is dedicated to making Waffles de Liege a quality player in the industry by bringing honest food and exceptional service to its customers.
Lawrence Tai began his college career majoring in Mechanical Engineering. A far cry from the restaurant/cafe business, he co-founded Waffles de Liege with one goal in mind: to introduce the amazing Liege waffle to the people of Southern California. A huge foodie, Lawrence loves visiting restaurants, both new and familiar. And when he’s not scouring LA for food, the native Angeleno is in his kitchen, experimenting with a variety of recipes ranging from basic pastries to complicated desserts. When the opportunity to be involved with the amazing food truck culture in Southern California presented itself, he jumped at the chance. Lawrence has a lot in store for Waffles de Liege and its customers and hopes to keep things exciting for everyone. One of his biggest passions in life, outside of the truck and small business in general, is sustainability, and he hopes to grow Waffles de Liege with that in mind. Serving others delicious and unique food items all while keeping things pleasant for our beloved Earth? Sounds like the perfect match!