Since its launch last month in the former French Concession neighborhood, artisanal bakery Bread etc. has been wowing locals and expats alike with their impressive array of baguettes, croissants, breads, pastries and desserts. It’s quickly become one of our favorite brunch spots too. We sat down with Doron Stephan Laurent, the French-Israeli mastermind behind the bakery to find out where he’s going with his latest project.
Hey Stephan. Thanks for taking the time off to speak to us. Let’s start at the very beginning. How did you get started in baking?
The first time I tried to bake bread, it was a disaster. I was 14 years old and I had decided to make homemade bread for a family dinner. I still remember the mess I put in my mother’s kitchen. You could find flour everywhere, from the floor to the ceiling. The sink was overflowing with utensils and the oven was full of streaks of dough.
The recipe was my grandmother Louise’s. Today I know why her bread was so good and mine was not. Something was missing in the recipe. Patience! Bread needs love and patience. Well, I already had the love but not the patience. Two years later, I started to learn bakery in my father’s hometown, Arles in Provence. There, I was taught the long bread baking procedure by some of the best chefs in France.
Today at Bread etc., we produce the same fine recipes I have been learning over the past 25 years.
You run a highly successful bakery in Tel Aviv. What made you come to Shanghai to start your next bakery?
I was introduced by chance to some wonderful people who truly believed in my experience and talent, and helped me to create this bakery that you see here. The challenge was huge, but just the idea of such an adventure was enough to make me drop everything and take the next plane to Shanghai.
Obviously, with the name “Bread etc”, the focus of the eatery is bread. What’s so special about your bread?
All the breads in our place are made according to the ancestral French tradition. We use natural yeast. The natural fermentation gives the sourdough bread a better conservation with no need of additional chemical products. Moreover, it is handmade.
Bread etc is HUGE for a bakery. Why?
The idea was to finally give the customers a lightly and spacious place to enjoy good bakeries, nice breakfast or lunch in a bright and comfortable atmosphere.
The bakery is also open to the customers, with big windows. We want to be transparent and allow people to discover a new world. Our team design, shape and bake the bread here, so why not allowing customers to see them? They are definitely part of the atmosphere.
As well, as per to be in line with our quality objectives, baking on-site is also the best guarantee of freshness. There’s nothing more heavenly than the smell of freshly-baked baguettes and pain au chocolat, and we want to share that with everyone in the neighborhood.
Shakshouka – eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions.
The winning product?
Definitely, the Shakshouka is the winner of the season. A voluptuous blend of tomato and red bell pepper, a hint of spicy and soft eggs on the top. We serve it with home made “Chala Bread”, soft and perfectly recommended to enjoy this dish until the very last drop.
Sacritain is another product really appreciated by our customers. Delicate and savory. It is now very hard in France to find these little gems of flavor since they require a lot of time and savoir-faire.
What is that one thing people usually miss at Bread etc, but shouldn’t?
The sour dough “tradition baguette” is made with the best of our team’s savoir-faire, respecting the French artisanal touch that make this baguette perfect. It embodies everything a baguette should have, a sour taste, an airy filling and a really crusty crust.
How have locals been responding?
Really good! To be very honest, it’s been better than what we expected. We can clearly see that some of them travelled a lot in Europe and have already a high knowledge in traditional bakery.
What’s next for Bread Etc?
Find Bread etc. at 500 South Xiangyang Road (襄阳南路 500号).