Our baker goes to french class
Last year, one of our bakers, spent a few weeks working and taking classes in France - baking class that is. She took a 3-day course at INBP learning french baking techniques as well as spending 6 days at Ma Boulangerie helping with the bakery's daily production. In both places, she had the chance to learn from MOF awarded chefs and bakers. MOF, or Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, is a unique and prestigious craftsmen competition in France, held every four years.
We wanted to share her experience with you.
Here is her interview from our most recent
Bakery Life newsletter.
What inspired the trip?
I have always had an interest in working abroad, something that I mentioned to Thierry. I didn’t imagine anything to come of it, but not long after, this opportunity surfaced. It’s truly amazing how much the Le Panier owners are willing to invest in their employees. I didn’t expect that this would actively be made to happen especially since the process was not the easiest. It was such a unique experience and one that I was very fortunate to have and will forever be grateful for. Alors, merci mille fois!
What was the name of the class?
It was a stage court, a 3 day course, at INBP labeled Viennoiserie d’exception avec Olivier Magne, MOF.
The stage took place for 6 days at Ma Boulangerie par Christophe Cressent, MOF.
How would you describe the environment?
Intimidating! At first. Everyone else there was a true Artisan trained in France, I felt very out of place being the only one who had not trained in school and who did not speak French fluently. After getting over my fears and spending more than 10 hours a day together, I found the class to have a surprisingly relaxed environment. Everyone was kind and willing to include me, and we were all obviously enthralled by everything we were learning. We each took part in making pieces of each viennoiserie being shown while also having the opportunity to be creative and make our own visions.
At Ma Boulangerie, it felt like a family. Everyone was friendly and truly loved their job, and they were also very skilled at what they did. I remember the boulangère telling me the many hours she worked but that she didn’t mind it because, “J’aime mon métier.” I spent half the time in pâtisserie and the other half in boulangerie and did work such as mixing dough, piping chouquettes, hand rolling croissants and shaping baguettes. The work was quite similar to what we do here at Le Panier which made the stage much more manageable for me than the class. I was only there a week and yet I felt comfortable and had even become accustomed to ‘faire la bise’ with every single person there each day when I arrived and then a second time when I left for the day.
Why did you want to be there?
To improve my skills, challenge myself, and to prepare for my stage at Ma Boulangerie.
I wanted to experience working and living in France.
What skill or technique did you appreciate learning?
I enjoyed making brioche feuilletée during the stage court. It may look simple to some, but when you see the actual process you realize how much skill it takes to achieve those perfect, buttery layers. My favorite viennoiserie to eat that we made was the carré feuilleté vanille fraise, a square of laminated dough filled with a vanilla crème brûlée and strawberry jelly.
At Ma Boulangerie, I was most interested in working in the boulangerie. It was fun to see how their doughs differ from ours and the variety they make.
We hear you’re headed to France again, what’s in store this time?
I sure am! Almost a year later, my seventh time to the country since 2008, I’m planning on spending most of my time in Paris while also maybe taking a day trip or two to nearby cities. I am looking forward to seeing friends, trying restaurants/bakeries I haven’t yet and of course to shop les soldes!