Brian Zoubek, a former Duke University men’s basketball center and 2010 NCAA basketball champion, has a newfound sweet spot.
For cream puffs, that is.
Zoubek is taking his skills off the court and into the pastry shop in the hope that his favorite childhood treat will become the latest dessert trend. Zoubek, a New Jersey native, opened Dream Puffz in Haddonfield, N.J. “After you taste them, you won’t stop dreaming about them,” he said.
Zoubek has taken a financial risk by investing his own funds in his shop, along with getting a little boost from his parents. Zoubek will handle the day-to-day operations, combining the role of owner, creator and manager, “basically doing every task you can think of.” The “z” in the name, he said, is his own personal touch.
He hired Joseph Vella to be head chef, and the duo experimented for two months with various recipes in order to create the ultimate cream puff.
A light, fluffy cream puff is made with pat a choux, the same French dough used in éclairs and profiteroles. Dream Puffz currently offers six flavors, including pistachio, peanut butter, cookies and cream and banana wafer. Dream Puffz customers can also choose between an original dough shell or one coated in decadent chocolate.
The cream puffs are made from scratch every morning and freshly filled for each order. Zoubek said the work can be “labor intensive,” so he recommends customers order in advance, especially when placing large orders that will be brought home (if they aren’t eaten on the way).
Zoubek’s former Duke teammates may have teased him when he first told them of his cream puff aspirations, but he says they’re all happy for him and wish him the best. Zoubek said coach Mike Krzyzewski taught him leadership and team building skills, but is “busy with the Olympics right now.”
Business so far is exceeding expectations, Zoubek said. Dream Puffz sold out every day during its first week, he said. He hopes to develop a catering business, as well as eventually to open a store in New York.