Growing up in the idyllic mountain region of Vosges in France, Emmanuel Piret would often accompany his father to his work trips around town. The older Piret was an artisan plumber and electrician and would service the nearby bakeries when they had problems. Who knew tagging along with his dad would plant a seed in young Emmanuel that will one day grow into a passion?
Shortly after his family moved to Paris, at the tender age of 13, Emmanuel started his apprenticeship at a bakery. He was able to work under 53 different chefs before he ventured to establish a bakery of his own. He was able to develop his own recipes from all the various techniques he learned from his mentors.
Emmanuel’s bread is a result
of many years of baking, along with the savoir faire one can only imbibe by being in Paris. In 1999, he opened his first bakery with his Filipina wife Armi in the Parisian suburb of Clamart. Called Boulangerie St. Joseph, it was where he baked delicate Viennoiserie like croissants, pain au chocolat and
pain au raisins. After a decade of success running his own bakery, he and his wife came to an agreement to move to the Philippines. They sold the Paris bakery (as of this writing, it is still open and doing well), and moved to Makati in 2015.
During a fateful night out in Poblacion (remember going out to bars and having a good time?), Emmanuel was able to meet the mastermind behind the popular bar Dr. Wine, Vincent Landais. Impressed with Emmanuel’s experience (Vincent proudly calls the Frenchman “One of the greatest bakers in Paris”), Vincent tells him, “Let’s bring real artisan bread to the Philippines.” Which is essentially how Dr. Bread started.
But just like in many other businesses, the pandemic really turned everything upside down for Dr. Bread. “Just like everybody, we are trying to survive,” Vincent laments. Originally, Dr. Bread wanted to supply bread to all the nearby hotels and restaurants, but because of the pandemic, they opened their doors to serve the customer directly.
When asked what makes baking in the Philippines different from baking in France, Emmanuel says the humidity in the Philippines is a lot higher than in France so when the bread is left out, it gets softer faster. The warmer climate also poses a dilemma for storing flour, because flour should be stored at 25 degrees celsius and no higher. Of course, at Dr. Bread, flour is stored in a temperature-controlled warehouse to maintain its quality.
“Everything he does is with his hands” Vincent says of Emmanuel. At Dr. Bread, the baker gets to share what he loves doing the most: baking rustic Payés bread (literally peasant bread), crusty baguettes, buttery and airy croissants and tasty rye bread. He has even extended his viennoiserie to cronuts and cruffins.
Dr. Bread was born during a time when everyone’s love for bread was reawakened. If one has tried baking his own bread because he’s been at home during the community quarantine, he will have a new appreciation for good baking and all the hours it takes to do. Handmade fresh everyday, using generations-old techniques, the bread Emmanuel bakes will transport you to that small boulangerie in Paris.
To order, you can send them a DM at @dr.breadmanila.
Photos by Jar Concengco