La Farm Bakery
Tell us about your business.La Farm Bakery is our lifelong dream. As a Master Baker, my husband Lionel Vatinet always hoped to open his own bakery & did so in Cary, NC in 1999;10 years later we expanded with a café. We opened La Farm Bakery as an homage to the ordinary yet extraordinary boulangeries that once flourished in every little town in France & vowed to continue the centuries-old baking techniques that Lionel learned from European Master Bakers in his native France. Lionel uses local, organic flour & a unique 3-day fermentation process to produce over 15 styles of artisan breads daily and over 20 seasonal breads throughout the year. His signature “La Farm” sourdough is an impressive 5-pound boule with an intense flavor & crusty exterior similar to those still enjoyed on farms throughout France. While our bakery is known for traditional European breads – hand rolled Baguettes, Ciabatta, Sesame-Semolina, Challah – Lionel is also an innovator; developing imaginative breads such as Asiago-Parmesan & more.
What makes your business stand out?My husband, Lionel Vatinet, is one of America’s bread baking pioneers. His unique French guild training with European Master Bakers instilled centuries-old techniques & a passion for teaching & sharing the art & science of bread baking. Lionel has dedicated his life to sharing his knowledge – first as a consultant to well known bread brands worldwide & now at our 14 year old NC bakery, where he teaches hands-on baking classes regularly. We proudly use local, organic NC flour, and developed the 100% Carolina Ground Whole Wheat boule as a way to celebrate his new relationship between his farmer and miller. We also use local cornmeal for our Yeasted Cornbread, which we feel completes the circle & really roots our European bakery in the South. Our breads are sold at Whole Foods Markets, on our Bread Truck, and at local farmers markets. In November, Lionel will share his time-honored techniques in his first artisan bread book, “A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker.”
What's the best business advice you've received?Lionel’s mentor in the United States, Michel Saus, who began the San Francisco Baking Institute where Lionel was the founding instructor, shared a key message that has remained with him throughout his career, and its something we talk about with our staff at the bakery all the time: There’s a difference between ‘good’ and ‘great,’ and ‘good’ is not good enough. This is the message that Richard Ripp at the Restaurant Company where I trained also echoed. Its helped us as our business and family have grown – a reminder to stay in touch with our passion and love for our craft of bread baking, and our desire to share it with our customers. With our staff, Lionel is often heard saying, “Each loaf is a reflection of you.”
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