bake - March 2018 - 24

life lessons

Few bakers have lived
through such unique
experiences as Pascal
Rigo has encountered.

Acclaimed baker Pascal Rigo remembers the crazy
days of his first baking experience in La La Land.
During the early 1990s, he was baking artisan breads
in Los Angeles where he started doing business with
fancy hotels, crafting stylish sourdough loaves and
delivering them in baskets. "Americans didn't consume
bread the way the way we do," he recalls, with a nod to
his home country of France. "I wasn't trying to replace.
I wanted to just add something else."
Rigo was making fabulous breads in assorted styles
and flavors, some with cheese or walnuts, and selling
to restaurants and hotels, until he decided to open his
first retail store in Southern California.
"I was so busy I would fall asleep at a traffic light
when it was red," he recalls. Soon he had opened
three retail stores but later sold out to a major chain.
"I sold the company to California Pizza Kitchen in
20 minutes," says Rigo, who was asked to stay on as
a consultant for months. "I stayed for six hours and
drove to San Francisco."
Fast forward to February 2018. Speaking at Europain
in Paris, the baker who brought artisan breads to
Trader Joe's and Starbucks discussed how he remains
as committed as ever to producing great-tasting
organic breads at affordable prices.
Rigo said he walked away from a partnership with
Starbucks in 2015 after helping the chain double its
annual food sales to $3 billion in three years. Then he
went on to introduce La Boulangarie retail bakeries in
San Francisco. But now his eyes have turned back to
his home country of France where he is embarking on
a new style of small artisan bakeries to the Bordeaux
region of France, where he grew up and first learned
his beloved trade.
According to reports, France has lost thousands
of bakeries over the past decade because of hard
boulangeries in small towns, hoping to fix the finances
and reopen the stores.
"Today, I feel that I am a full product of a French
education. I realized there was a real opportunity to

24 < MAR 2018 |


economic times. Now Rigo is seeking out closed

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of bake - March 2018