BREAD AND CHEFS
Adrien et Benjamin Bricaud
Épicurien Boulangerie Artisanale (artisanal bakery)
A classic range of breads of all kinds, made by hand, containing no improvers or preservatives and using premium quality local flour. The dough is kneaded, shaped and baked by a team of passionate bakers (you have to be if you’re kneading about four tons of flour a week!). Products include baguettes, loaves (sliced fig and hazelnut, rye and whole wheat, multigrain, country-style), burger buns (vegan potato, brioche) and square breads (milk, multigrain, white).
Brothers Adrien and Benjamin Bricaud, who have lived in Quebec for 20 and 15 years respectively, first opened a small shop (the Pain d’Épi bakery) in 2012 in the Saint-Henri neighbourhood, at the corner of Saint-Antoine St. West and Greene Avenue. At the time, they already had in mind the idea of opening a business making artisanal bread for the restaurant market, but they had to start somewhere. The friendly landlord of the space they rented, anxious to bring life to the neighbourhood, insisted that they open a “boutique-café” with a storefront, in addition to baking artisanal breads.
This is where the two brothers began their business, offering baked goods, pastries, coffee, tea and a simple lunch menu on site, while at the same time delivering their breads to restaurants across Montreal, seven days a week. Over the years, the sustained growth of their business meant that they had to move their production to a larger facility. They are now located on Iberville Street in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.
The Pain d’Épi bakery continues to operate successfully in the heart of Saint-Henri, but now represents only a fraction of all the activities of the Bricaud brothers, who are dedicated full-time to the restaurant market.
Benjamin is the one in charge of sales, and Adrien is the one in charge of the bakery and developing the recipes, though he now oversees the other bakers on the team. Adrien learned his “new” profession (with a background in law, art history and administration, he is proof that only fools don’t change their minds!) from experienced bakers who were delighted to share their knowledge and know-how.
Benjamin and Adrien Bricaud are from Ivry-la-Bataille, a village in Normandy, France. For history buffs, this village takes its name from a great battle fought by the future King Henry IV against the Catholics in 1590. The village has fewer than 3,000 souls, yet, when the Bricaud brothers were young, there were three bakeries! This shows how important bread is for the French. In fact, a study (fr.) revealed that 50% of them consider bread an essential food for a balanced diet.
Even as children, they dreamed of starting a business. So it is not surprising that after many academic and professional detours, they decided to open a bakery.
“When you start an artisanal bakery, as opposed to an industrial one, the biggest challenge is ensuring consistency in the quality of the products,” Benjamin explains. “Everything is done by hand, so it’s crucial to train employees to understand that they must never depart from the production guidelines. Customers are demanding. While they expect the breads to look a little uneven sometimes, it is vital that the product be essentially the same.”
“The interest that restaurant chefs have in our products, and the loyalty of the chefs who often call us when they leave one establishment for another, because they know the quality of our products and our service.”
The company’s customers, mostly chefs in the restaurant industry, are a real inspiration to Benjamin and Adrien, and it is these people who encouraged them to go after this market with greater gusto. These chefs appreciate being able to work with L’Épicurien’s local and high-quality products.
Benjamin and Adrien Bricaud dream of building their own production facility, based on their specifications and customized for them. But much more important than that, they want their company to continue growing at the same pace it is today, and for the atmosphere in their teams to remain equally pleasant at all levels.
The loyalty of their customers, which the Bricaud brothers are very grateful for.
Benjamin begins by telling us his favourite dish is veal blanquette. However, when Adrien tells us that his favourite is his mother’s chicken and fries, Benjamin wants to change his mind. “It’s true that my mother’s chicken and fries is the best!” he exclaims.