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Two minutes with Apollonia Poilâne, Poilâne

Published 11 October 2019

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For this week’s Careers Q&A we caught up Apollonia Poilâne, CEO and third generation family member of world famous bakery Poilâne. She shared with us how she started working in the bakery at just 16, her advice to those starting out in the industry and why she is excited about new opening Silo. 

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?

I grew up in my family’s bakery. So, it isn’t so much that I realised my desire, as much as I realised that I love making others happy with bread, biscuits or simple pastries.

Where and how did you get your start?

I apprenticed in the bakery starting when I was 16. We often greeted visitors which gave me a sense of the value of what we did with our hands but also an appreciation to share it with our guests.

Sum up your current work life in one sentence.

I feed people’s bodies and souls.

Who has been really influential on your career and why?

Restaurant and hotel general managers, because they have to deal with a variety of tasks, ranging from practical to mundane which bears resemblances with my responsibility as head of Poilâne bakery.

 What’s next for you?

In 2020, Poilâne are celebrating 20 years of French style baking in London! We will be doing a lot of things to celebrate – stay tuned. And more generally, 88 years celebrating the beginnings of Poilâne with an infinity of possibilities. We love bringing joy with “the staff of life”, in the words of Johnathan Swift.

What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out?

Act with passion. Because hospitality is demanding, and because people will taste it!

Where did you last have a great meal?

I was fortunate to sit at the Clove club a couple of months ago. The warmth of the team and atmosphere, the attention to detail making your meal that much more delicious was a reminder of the wonders of our industry at large.

Are there any restaurant/bakery openings you are looking forward to?

Silo in Hackney Wick in a place that makes my favorite Kombucha, JARR. 

Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)?

Probably Tokyo, and most places in Japan, for its refinement. 

Who would you identify as a rising star?

French chef Hugo Roellinger. While he and the Chateau Richeux team have received a 2nd Michelin star this year, his culinary explorations and curiosity make me think that there is (much) more to come!

This Q&A was first included in the weekly CODE Careers Bulletin. To subscribe, please click here

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