If a taste can transport you to a different place, and if that place is the streets of Paris, then Franck Point has accomplished his goal.
Point, owner of Faubourg — a trio of Parisian bakeries and cafés in Vancouver and one of four local chefs taking part in the From the Kitchen to the Boardroom 2.0 event on Jan. 12 at the River Rock Show Theatre — saw a niche for true Parisian-style breads and pastries while making a series of trips to Vancouver to visit his wife’s parents.
So, when he finally decided to move his family here in 2006, after working overseas in hotel management, he put a plan in place that drew on his Parisian background that honoured mealtimes as a time for not only sharing food, but conversation.
“It may be arrogant to say, but in France, we put great importance on food,” said Point, who is originally from Lyon, France. “And when I was at home, I made sure that we had at least one meal a day that we shared with no other distractions — no TV, no radio or computer games. Food may not be the centre of everything, but meals served as a time that we made sure we talked with one another.”
The holidays also placed a great emphasis on dining together.
“I remember as a kid, especially at Christmas, we’d spend hours at a meal, preparing it and then enjoying it,” he said. “That kind of respect for food is surely in my genes.”
That’s why, when he noticed a lack of local French bakeries here, he decided to switch career paths and move away from the hotel business and focus on baking.
“My idea was to bring to Vancouver something very different,” he said. “It was not just going to be another bakery or coffee shop.”
What he wanted to create was a true taste of a Parisian bakery. And judging from the 280,000 croissants he sold last year, plenty of people are experiencing a gastronomic trip.
“I remember the very first day in Kerrisdale, we sold out the entire (croissant) run by 11 a.m. Then it took us three days before we could supply any more from opening to closing. I had to adjust my business model to what the market wanted to buy,” Point said.
“I realized that people in Vancouver are very much in love with food,” he said. “And they are more and more exposed to different concepts from overseas. And that pointed me in the direction of creating a niche for a traditional, French bakery.”
Six years ago, he opened up his first location 41st Avenue in Kerrisdale, which became so popular with customers that they kept asking him why he didn’t open another in the heart of Downtown Vancouver.
So, six months later, he heeded their pleas and began serving from a second location on Hornby Street. About seven months later, a third bakery was opened at Park Royal in West Vancouver.
“And because we had three locations, we had to develop a 3,500-square-foot central kitchen that helps with production,” he said.
When Point knew what he wanted to do, he went back to Paris to study how to become a baker.
“I have so much respect for bakers that I do not consider myself to be one because I don’t have the years of experience the good, successful ones do,” he said. “For me, baking is art. And pastry is more scientific because it’s ‘X’ grams of this and ‘y’ grams of that and this is the result once you put it into the oven.
“There is that element of doubt involved in making that perfect bread,” he said. “It can be the moisture in the room, the temperature of the flour, water — all of those elements are crucial to make what you want.”
Every day can be different in a bakery and that can affect how you work, Point said.
In addition to Point, From the Kitchen to the Boardroom 2.0 will feature David Hawksworth, of Hawksworth restaurant, Nightingale and Bel Café; Angus An, from Maenam, Longtail Kitchen and Fat Mao Noodles, and Lucais Syme, from Cinara. Tickets are $250 plus GST, or $225 for chamber members, and includes a dining forum centred on food, business and entrepreneurship in the food industry in Metro Vancouver, plus a five-course meal created by the chefs. For tickets, visit online at RichmondChamber.ca or call 604-278-2822.