Article: Southern Boules | The French Pastry School

Article: Southern Boules

Southern Boules
The French Pastry School |
February 10, 2014
Two Graduates of L’Art de la Boulangerie Open Bakeries in Mississippi and Louisiana

Everyone’s road to The French Pastry School is different.   Whether from France, South America, Chicagoland, the West Coast or the East Coast, the love of bread is universal.  In its first three sessions alone, L’Art de la Boulangerie welcomed students from Mexico, Peru, PIndonesia, Brazil, California, South Carolina, Florida, Utah, and more.  When two Southerners from different states and different backgrounds enrolled in 2011, they both did so to bring artisan bread back to life in their communities.

Holly Loomis opened her bakery, La Belle Bakery, in Hernando, Mississippi shortly after graduating from L’Art de la Boulangerie.  Five years earlier, Loomis already knew that she wanted to own her own business after working in a Memphis-based pastry shop which specialized in cakes.  “I was interested in the pastry and bread side because I wanted to provide more products; things that you couldn’t necessarily find in the Memphis area.” 

Loomis first completed a degree in accounting and, upon graduating, decided to jump straight into more education.  This time, she received a certificate in Artisan Bread Baking from The French Pastry School.  “I believe it is an art and that you need to have professionals who have been in the industry,” Loomis said, as she explained her decision to enroll. “That way, you’re not just learning the techniques but also learning from the experiences they’ve already had.” 

When Loomis was laying the foundation for her bakery, she called on a fellow graduate – who was also in the process of opening his own bakery almost 400 miles due South – to help with production.   Though they came from different backgrounds and different generations, the two classmates connected over their respect for the craft of bread-making.

When first applying to L’Art de la Boulangerie, Sean O’Mahony, a native of Louisiana, bemoaned the illogical lack of artisan bread in his hometown.  “New Orleans was one of the first French colonies in the US and there are hardly any places where you can get a decent loaf of French bread,” he explained.  Just a year after completing the 8-Week Artisan Bread Baking Program as a career-changer, O’Mahony and his wife, Chamain, added to the Big Easy’s burgeoning food scene by opening Breads on Oak, an organic, artisan bakery in the city’s Uptown neighborhood.

While O’Mahony was transitioning out of the Marines twenty years before opening his bakery, he served an unforgettable stint working as a baker before becoming a software consultant.  “Since then, I had planned on opening a bakery as my second career,” he recounted.  “However, just working at a bakery doesn't replace formal training.  After taking [L’Art de la Boulangerie], I couldn't imagine the mistake that I could've made if I had opened a bakery without the training I received.”

Now, the O’Mahony’s have a loyal following for their organic breads, breakfast pastries, sandwiches, and treats, quite a few of which are vegan in honor of Chamain and her knack for creating delicious, dairy free goodies.  The bakery sells out quickly every day, maintains many wholesale accounts, and even has a guest home attached (called “Bakery House”) that vacationers can rent. 

O’Mahony remembers that the chef instructors were not just master chefs but also master teachers. “In L’Art de la Boulangerie, we used production ovens and mixers and baked good size batches.  Class started at 6:45am and finished at 3:45pm, five days a week,” he reflected.   “I knew that I was going to get the most authentic and highest caliber of instruction from the French Pastry School’s incredible instructors and that I didn't have to spend the money studying in France for it. The instruction may even be too authentic: now, I have French customers that refuse to believe I'm Irish!”

The opportunity to join alumni like Loomis and O’Mahony in bringing artisan bread to your business and community has not yet passed.  The French Pastry School is still accepting applications to the next session of L’Art de la Boulangerie beginning on June 16, 2014.  Make connections with masters of their craft as they teach you how to become a baking professional and join the most delicious alumni network in the country.