Monday, February 23, 2015

Spotlight - Bagels in Paris! Bruegger's

As an American living in Paris, there are certain foods I miss. Of course being a native Californian the burrito is high on that list. Another fare that makes the list is a good old fashion American bagel. The perfect grab and go meal on the way to the office or to satiate that mid day hunger pang. Nothing like a toasted onion bagel doused in cream cheese...Although American’s have made bagels completely theirs, the bagel has beginnings stretching back to the times of ancient Egypt and the greater Mediterranean, the first rolls with a hole.  The concept evolved and according to some historians the bagel that we know today came from Krakow and was a product of the 1683 Battle of Vienna. According to gastronomic lore, King Jan Sobieski saved Austria from the Turkish invaders, and a baker made a roll in the shape of the king's stirrup and called it a beugel (the Austrian word for stirrup) in his honor. Once the beugel or bagel became popular in Krakow, the Jewish bakers began making them in their own bakeries due to the strictness of Jewish dietary laws. But the bagel has endured through the centuries not only because of its heroic legend. It also had the advantage of lasting longer than freshly baked bread because the boiling gave the roll an outer sheen and a crunchy, protective crust.
In the late nineteenth century due to economic hardship, political persecution, weak crops, poverty and famine many Europeans saw America as their answer and a land of opportunity. New York was their gateway and after the end of the civil war in 1865, America began to emerge as a country of promise and freedom. A mass migration of European hopefuls brought along with them their culture, customs and of course…the bagel. In 1907 the International Beigel Bakers' Union was created and from then on monopolised bagel production in New York City. What is also certain is that immigrants from Eastern Europe, with their cravings for the foods of the old country, sparked the New York bagel craze. However, New York could not contain this celebrated bread and its popularity spread throughout the rest of America…Americans couldn't and still can’t get enough fortifying its importance in American tradition and gastronomyFortunately for us in France, this humble bread has made it back to Europe. We lucky Parisians now have the opportunity to sink our teeth into a real deal American bagel right here in the center of Paris! Thanks to the hard work of Vincent Le Duff and Adélaïde Le Duff! 

A true labor of love, husband and wife, Vincent Le Duff and Adélaïde Le Duff, have spent the past two years bringing the bagel back to Europe. But true perfectionists as they are, they wanted to bring the real authentic New York bagel to Paris….and that is just what they did by opening Bruegger's Bagel and Coffee, France! But they didn't just bring over the beloved bagel, they also brought over American coffee’s, cheesecake, beers and….hold your breath….ranch dressing! They even brought over the "feel" of New York! While entering the Bruegger's venue, one feels as though they are being transported to New York city itself! From the exposed brick walls, clean bright space, florescent signage, free WiFi and well curated American soul music, you have to try hard and remember you are in Paris! So Parisians, you don't have to go all the way to New York, you can have a real authentic American experience and bagel, right here in France. I was able to travel to New York with out even leaving Paris, and visit with both Vincent Le Duff and Adélaïde Le Duff to hear about how the American bagel came to Paris.

  • Bruegger's location: Centre commercial Montparnasse 11 rue de l'ArrivéeMontparnasse, 15ème
  • Transit information    Montparnasse - Bienvenüe 0.10 mi  Edgar Quinet 0.21 mi
      Duroc 0.40 mi
KG: How did you get involved with Bruegger's Bagels, a famous New York based bagel company? 

Vincent Le Duff: Groupe Le Duff (which was started by my father Louis Le Duff in 1976) is deeply established in the North American territory and is famous brands like Brioche Doree, La Madeleine, Mimi's, Timothy's, Au Pain Doré... and also its industrial branch Bridor. In 2011, Groupe Le Duff bought the giant Bruegger's, a network of more than 330 retailers. The first step of the internationalization for Bruegger's was obvious...France!

KG: I understand this is a family operation, what is your role and what is your wife's role?

Vincent Le Duff: I'm International Director, in charge of Bruegger's development outside the USA, and also in charge of the innovation department. My wife Adélaïde is in charge of the design and marketing of the French concept.

The charming Vincent Le Duff and Adélaïde Le Duff 
KG: How has opening Bruegger's been on you both and your family?

Vincent Le Duff: Of course, opening a new shop next door to our home was very exciting! It made the experience tangible for our kids. It was very nice to bring them to the shop regularly during the building works and show them the result of our hard work! Our kids are Bruegger's first fans!

KG: What gave you the idea to bring the American New York bagel over to France, a country famous for their different types of breads and the famous baguette?

Vincent Le Duff: Group Le Duff has had experience exporting existing French brands all over the Atlantic (from France to US), but never in the opposite way (from US to Europe!). For many years in the minds of many French people, American food was often times connected with junk/bad food. But, this is no longer true. We notice the French food market has high demand of a novelty, and American gastronomy is one of the trends. The bagel especially is one of the answers, a very good and tasty alternative to the burger. 

KG: I understand your first Bruegger's Bagel and Coffee opened in Rennes, how was the initial response from French customers? 

Vincent Le Duff: We were met immediately with incredible success in Rennes. French customers are ready for the bagels and the coffee shop products.

KG:  What is your best selling bagel? 

Vincent Le Duff: Hmmm, I'm not sure, but I believe it's the "Poulet Broadway". It's a recipe of roasted chicken, red onion, tomato, cream cheese, salad and a touch of spicy sauce ! On cheddar bagel bread, it's delicious!

KG: What is your favorite bagel?

Vincent Le Duff: I really love our Burger Bagel called "Classic New Yorker", especially in winter when it's cold outside. This is a recipe with a hot meat (steak haché)... on sesame bagel bread, it's delicious!

Bruegger's also serves up several types of wraps and all bagel/wraps are furnished with your choice of chips or coleslaw! 
KG: What is your best selling item at the epicerie (mini shop)? 

Vincent Le Duff: Of course American beers (it's not easy to find a Coors light in France!), and several sauces (ranch, mustard honey, burger sauce, jalapeño...)

Coors Light, Sol and Brooklyn Brewery...not to mention French's mustard and relish! Slice of home! Don't forget the Oreo's!

Yeah...real bonafide ranch dressing. 

KG: What is your favorite item in the epicerie?

Vincent Le Duff: Ranch! With microwave pop-corn... a perfect after work break!

KG: How do your customers respond to the "American style" coffee? 

Vincent Le Duff: Very well. Of course we always sell a lot of espresso, because of the French habits, but we notice that there is a large audience for the coffee specialties, especially the young people (18-30)

KG: Are you opening anywhere else in Paris or in France?

Vincent Le Duff: Next opening will be in Toulouse (spring 2015), and in Velizy (4th trimester 2015).  Other locations are already fixed, but for the years’s still confidential!

KG: As time goes, do you want to add anymore American items?

Vincent Le Duff: We are always on the search and of course it must be tasty and delicious, with an authentic American DNA! I keep it for you as a surprise ;-)


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