One of my earliest childhood food memories is of the time when Julia Child visited the family of one of my best friends who lived down the block. My friend’s mother was an occasional contributor to Gourmet magazine at the time, and a fantastic cook. His father owned a chocolate company. So Julia and that family had grown friendly when their paths had fortuitously crossed.
During Julia’s visit, she taught some of the neighborhood ladies—including my mother—a few classes centered on culinary cornerstones like making pasta and bread. I remember standing in a room just adjoining the kitchen as the ladies gathered around the butcher block in the center of the room, attention rapt as Julia shared her signature brand of common-sense—yet high-culinary—wisdom. It was fascinating, and also an early step along my pathway toward a career in food.
And it was also the first time I heard the word “brioche.”
Delightfully enriched with eggs and butter, brioche has been finally seeing strong acceptance in the U.S. over the past couple of years. Brioche mentions are way up on U.S. restaurant menus, and we’re seeing more brioche buns, rolls and breads in retail.
I’ve long been a fan, so when I started seeing St Pierre brioche products at my local markets, I started sampling. Many of St Pierre’s products are a nice intersection of artisan and easily accessible indulgence. They’re artful. And they’re fun. They’re also selling amazingly well. St Pierre is currently one of the fastest-growing bakery brands in the country. And the company is the 2019 Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery selection for “Bakery of the Year.”
St Pierre Groupe is certainly a bakery company worth keeping an eye on. While they’ve enjoyed significant success to date, they’re just getting started, and have more strong brands that have been proven in the United Kingdom that will also likely resonate with U.S. shoppers. One area I know St Pierre has a keen eye on is the growing market for prepared foods at convenience stores, many of which have dramatically expanded their fresh food offerings over the past few years. The time might be just about right for a wider selection of upscale items to blend into the mix.
During IBIE, we’ll honor St Pierre Groupe with our 2019 “Bakery of the Year” award. And we’ll also be walking the floor and talking to the best and brightest across the industry to get some insights into emerging trends and strategies for baking industry success.
After all, everyone wants to know what the next brioche will be.