When I first decided I wanted to learn how to bake it was almost immediately decided that I would have to go to France. I knew that if I wanted to be the best baker in the world then I would have to learn from the best first. My year in France was by far one of the most enriching experiences of my life. Now back, with Pain du Jour, I hope to re-create some of my best memories of the country, most importantly those of its food and culture.
When I first began work on the Pain du Jour menu I was in a complete fix. I found it very tough to gauge what products would sell best. When I think about that time I always go back to this one conversation I had with my cousin when she came to visit me in Paris. We were eating breakfast one morning when she made the funniest observation. I had bought back some pesto and tomato bread from the kitchen I was working in. While eating it she remarked that she now knew why French people had such angular jaws; it was because their bread was so damn hard to chew. It was then that I realized that most European food found in India is very Indian in its flavors and textures and so most people aren’t accustomed to eating real French bread.
Although I flirted with the idea of a fusion of Indian and French flavors in the beginning I soon realized that it’s best to focus on one cuisine and do the best you can with it. Sticking to the French cuisine which is my expertise, and not trying to come up with a new concoction of flavors has allowed me to channel my energy better. I’ve worked and re-worked my recipes to find ways to make my breads as traditionally French as possible, while sticking by our principles of being chemical and preservative free. Today Pain du Jour is respected for its authenticity and I’m glad I stuck by it.
The smell of freshly baked baguettes always takes me back to my 6 am bakery classes in Yssingeaux where the wonderful aroma would wake me up in an instant. The entire process of making and baking breads and croissants brings back immensely happy memories of my time in France. I’m happiest when I bake and I believe that’s reflected in the end product.
So for me it wasn’t so much as picking a cuisine that was popular but more about picking something I truly love to make.