Monday, July 29, 2013
Lionel Poilane - The Artist Baker

Today morning I read a wonderful Fast Company Article on a Baker in Paris. His name Lionel Poilane. Fast Company talks about Lionel's Love for Bread as such,

"Lionel Poilâne sells the most famous bread in Paris. In fact, he sells 15,000 loaves of bread each day -- 2.5% of all bread sold in Paris, by weight. But he doesn't think of himself as a mere baker. Most bakers simply mix dough, shape loaves, and shove them into the oven. And while for many years he did all of those things every day, that still doesn't make him a baker."

In an earlier blog post mentioned how people must study their craft. Lionel was a true student of his craft.  I love how Lionel used Retro Innovation to create Bread Magic. He combined the best of the old and new styles on Baking as mentioned in the article.

What amazed me most about this man was his love for the Art of Baking. When he took over the family business from his Father he contacted over 10,000 bakers and amassed a massive collection of over 2,000 books on Bread! That is commitment.

As Fast Company puts it in the article "In the early 1980s, Poilâne decided to tap into the memories of the oldest bakers in the country to see if they could give him advice on how to reproduce the older styles of bread. With the help of two students, he contacted more than 10,000 bakers over a two-year period. "I conducted an ethnography of my own business," he says. "Most of the bakers had only fading memories to offer, but some were thrilled that he was trying to revive older bread-making traditions and offered to bake him sample loaves. By the time he was finished with his study, Poilâne had tried more than 75 different types of bread that he'd never tasted before. He eventually wrote up his findings in a book -- a study that is still used today in baking schools throughout France. He also amassed a library full of books on bread, which today contains more than 2,000 volumes."

Do his customers love him...No...They absolutely adore him..

The article further describes it as such "Poilâne's bread has won him famous fans over the years: Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall used to enjoy a loaf from time to time, and Robert De Niro is a customer. The most devoted patron, however, is a gentleman in New York who wants to remain anonymous. In 1997, he agreed to pay Poilâne $100,000, asking that his children and grandchildren receive a loaf a week for the rest of their lives. "Can you imagine?" Poilâne says, with obvious pride. "In 50 years, he'll be dead, but his grandchildren will be feeding our bread to their children and explaining how they are eating the bread of their great-grandfather!"

We all have the chance to be artists in our lives, in our careers, in our daily tasks. Let us commit to being artists. To create not just to create, but to create to actually make a hell of a difference. It is time we brought out the Lionel in all of us. It is time we brought out the Artist in all of us.

Read the full article here -