” That Best Bakery in France” returns to the M6 this Monday for a tenth season. The establishments in the competition will be judged by Meilleur Ouvrier de France Bruno Cormerais, chef Norbert Tarayre and… pastry chef Noëmie Honiat. Former contestant of “Top Chef” in 2014, the new recruit claims to have “learned a lot of things despite [sa] jury duty”.
If the profession is struggling to hire and has been hit hard by rising energy costs, this caterer, which primarily does the bakery aspect of weddings, has an optimistic outlook. “We are clearly not here to break or cut, but to listen to everyone’s story and judge a know-how”, she assures 20 minutes.
The recordings of ” The best bakery in France » is a marathon. How did you live this experience?
It went extremely well. At first I was a little impressed, especially by Bruno, because there is respect for the Meilleur Ouvrier de France passport. I know Norbert very well because we did the casting for “Top Chef” together and we have a very brotherly relationship. Naturally, over time a real bond was created between the three of us. And so there really is a little family around this show. Everyone welcomed me with open arms and put me at ease very quickly. It was just amazing.
After ten seasons, it was time for the show to recruit a woman to its jury, right?
Obviously, I bring a different sensibility. When I ask questions to the participants, I have a feminine look with my own analysis. Especially because I like gossip. We are not influenced in the same way by the creations with Bruno… We complement each other very well. What I want to bring again is a more in-depth analysis of pastry. Today, it is something very important when you enter a bakery. Ditto on the snack part: we’re far from the ham and butter sandwich, and we’re seeing real recipes from chefs. Having this role is very enriching… Humanly speaking, I met real enthusiasts. Professionally, I learned a lot of techniques and recipes.
What is a good bakery in 2023 for you?
It is a passionate professional, a team that works in a good mood and a qualified place in the bread and cake section, in the pastry section and in the snack section. You need all three. And then you also need a dose of creation, originality and a welcoming shop.
Were there any surprises on your baking journey in France?
It happened very regularly. I tasted things that made me feel like a Proust madeleine that reminded me of my grandmother’s cake. Others surprised me with techniques I didn’t know or cheeky combinations… We had bread with squid in it, with sardines on it… Improbable things!
For the first time, the show stops outside the metropolis. Is the baker’s job really different on Réunion Island where you went?
The know-how is not the same, the products are not the same, so we are in total discovery. Reunion is the region where the people were most welcoming and the months stressed by their bakery closing during filming.
Bakers have been warning for months about an increase in their production costs due to a rise in energy costs. Did you feel it too?
I’m still a wedding caterer, so of course these are things that affect me too, and obviously it’s not easy for everyone. But the purpose of the show is to highlight the professional. A baker who appears on the show will increase his turnover. We are clearly not there to break or cut, but to listen to everyone’s story and judge a skill. Afterwards we give marks, because that is the purpose of the competition, but it is always benevolent.
This increase in costs adds to the many hurdles that are piling up. Should we be worried about the future of the profession?
I think that when it’s a passion, you go all the way. The interesting thing about the show is that we meet all types of people. For example, we see that there are many conversions. We have seen doctors, firemen who have started the bakery and who are satisfied and happy as always. So it gives a lot of ideas, especially for young people.
Do you think so ” The best bakery in France » can create vocation?
exactly! When you’re a student and a bit passionate, you watch programs like “Top Chef” or “La Meilleur Boulangerie”… Of course, it awakens a calling, it opens doors, and it’s clear that hotel schools feel it. If at least one person is tempted to become a baker, we win. This can inspire university students who wonder about their professional orientation. 70% of the time when I asked bakers where their passion came from, they told me about their third grade discovery internship…
You are not a baking expert. Has the show changed your view of the profession?
Yes. When my relatives, who know nothing about it, bring me cakes or bread bought in a supermarket, I tell them: “Throw it in the bin!” » (laughs) A wand bought from a mall is not the same as one from an artisan. Since being on the show, I have had a much sharper opinion about the bread I want to eat and especially about the quality of what I want to give my children. I see it as an accelerated training with Bruno, who explains to me how to recognize good sourdough, good dough… The program encourages you to say to yourself: “Okay, we might pay a little more for our baguette, but in at least we know what’s inside and we can see the baker working behind”, there are no more secrets.