A Stir The Pots Post

Student teaching the teacher…

by | Jan 27, 2012 | Baking, Bread, Chefs


Recently, my former mentor and boss, Chef Jean-Michel Bergounoux asked me about what flour I used when baking bread. I didn't think much beyond the fact that maybe he made a loaf occasionally at home or even if he was trying to make some bread for a special meal at his restaurant. We used to bake a lot when I worked with him over twenty years ago, but he surprised me by saying he'd taken up bread baking!

It all happened last Friday, when I paid him a visit at his restaurant, L'Absinthe. I found him in between shifts, sitting in the back as he polished off a pot au feu, a bunch of baking books next to him and a bag of breads from L'Ecole. I recognized one of the books instantly, "The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking," a recent purchase of mine. It's virtually the short course I took at the French Culinary Institute, and includes the fundamentals of baking, whether it's hydration, flour types, pre-ferments or levains.

Jean Michel invited me up to his apartment to see his burgeoning "home labaratoire." Like a child in a toy store, Jean Michel's kitchen is filled with baker's tools, including a new Globe mixer, and a Bosch convection oven with two stones to mimic a bakers oven. And strewn on the counter were books surrounded by Jean-Michel's hand written notes – I recognized his familiar scrawl.


"Come on Jeremy," Jean-Michel said, "lets make some bread, if you got a minute?" He compiled a formula for  loaf of pain de campagne using a formula from Richard Bertinet. Then, as soon as the dough was mixed, Jean Michel wanted to try a baguette recipe I recognized  from famed Parisian baker Anis Bouabsa and which I recognized from  The Fresh Loaf. I reminded Jean-Michel that he should take time with all this bread baking, that he didn't want to rush. He chuckled at my concerns, telling me, " there you have it, the student teaching his teacher!"


  1. Kathleen

    What a nice day and full of respect and love. I do not make bread, but I do love to see the breads you make and wish I had a bite!

  2. Gusete

    Great moment, Jeremy!


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