Oooh Lala — Who Is the Best Baker in Paris?

By Sadie Bass

Mar 24, 2010 2:27pm

ABC's Christophe Schpoliansky reports from Paris: Djibril Bodian does not meet the typical image of a French baker you may have seen on an old French postcard. He is not a little on the plump side. He does not have a moustache or a cigarette between his pursed lips. His face is never covered with flour.   Non, 33-year-old Djibril Bodian is skinny, he has dreadlocks tied back in a ponytail, earrings and he is… of African origin. And what he has accomplished is the dream of many “French-born” boulangers: he just won the 2010 grand prize for the best “traditional baguette” in Paris. Bodian was born in Senegal and arrived in France at the age of 6. His father was also a baker, and he trained at a patisserie and baking school in Pantin, in the Paris suburbs, 12 years ago. A baguette de tradition is a slightly shorter, chewier version of the classic, long, white baguette. By law, it must show 5 or 7 slashes on the face and it must be handmade from double-fermented dough, with no artificial yeast and no chemical additives. 163 bakers entered this year’s competition. Each baker had to present 2 baguettes to the jury. Each baguette had to be between 19 and 27 inches in length and weigh between 0.52lb and 0.75lb. The jury selected the best baguette according to several criteria: the baking, the taste, the inside of the baguette (called the “mie”), the smell and the appearance.   Employee (of the month?) in a boulangerie near Montmartre, a traditional part of Paris where the movie Amélie was shot years ago, Djibril Bodian does not think there is a secret to make a good baguette. For him, a good baguette needs to be well cooked, with a thin crust, a maximum of holes on the inside and a very good smell. In a country where 97% of its population say it eats bread every day, Djibril will probably have to work twice as hard. On top of his regular customers, he will now have the great honour of supplying the French presidential palace with its baguettes for a year. Nicolas and Carla Sarkozy will be among Monsieur Bodian’s satisfied customers. 

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