The love of great bread

For Yves Simard, true love struck at the age of 71. After more than 50 years in the restaurant business, the Québec City native discovered a passion for bread. Great bread. The kind with a golden crust that offers just enough crunch. The kind with that unmistakable smell that harkens back to the simple pleasures of days gone by. The bread that, rising from the simplest of ingredients, manages to so richly represent the skill of the artisan baker.

In Québec City, great bread like this is almost impossible to find. So Yves Simard decided to take matters into his own hands.

The story of bread

Bread: water, flour, a little salt and some yeast. Since the days of ancient Egypt, the recipe has held a place in every civilization. It has stood at the core of many religions and sometimes even acted as a catalyst for historical events, like the French Revolution.

A bakery without a baker

Small detail: Yves Simard had no bakery experience. But he knew where to find it: 5,000 kilometres away, in France. He tried his luck and reached out to the best artisan bakers in the country. They all agreed to meet with him. And it was there in Paris, in the moments between two fresh-baked batches in a little café on rue Monge, that Yves Simard revealed his plan to Dominique Saibon. Drawn in by the passion of a man he assumed would rather be enjoying a well-deserved retirement, Saibon agreed to travel to Québec and train a few bakers. And, in keeping with an old bakers’ tradition, he offered a little of his own yeast to Yves Simard. Paillard was ready to make bread.

Yeast

Traditionally used to make bread rise and to help preserve it, yeast is something like a baker’s signature. To kick-start the fermentation process and lend a perfume to the bread, fruit or honey is sometimes added. Each recipe is unique, and carefully maintained yeast can be regenerated forever. Yves Simard still uses the yeast base he brought back from France in 2005, and has since modified it to create a flavour that is uniquely Québec.

The birth of an institution

Making good bread is one thing; making quality match quantity is quite another. In addition to know-how, it demands specialized equipment and flawless organization. To rise to the challenge, Paillard relies on the talent of French artisans and on the “American” experience of its founder. And where better for the meeting of these two expertises than in North America’s most European city?

After more than a year of dedication, the first Café-boulangerie Paillard opened its doors on June 16, 2006, in the historic centre of Old Québec.

Bread is just the beginning

At Paillard, everything begins with bread. It’s the quintessential foundation for delicious sandwiches, pastries and pizzas. But it’s also the base for a certain gourmet imperative, for a love of exceptional products and quality without compromise. Quite naturally, Paillard quickly extended its expertise to coffee, chocolate and even ice cream, after returning from Bologna with the secret behind genuine Italian gelati. In just a few years, Café-boulangerie Paillard has become a must-visit in Old Québec. People travel from all over to delight in the homemade delicacies, the conviviality of the locale and the excellent service. And, of course, they go for the bread. It’s always about the bread first.