The French actor who turned quarantine cooking into a thriving business
Many Americans have dabbled in baking while in quarantine during the pandemic, doing everything from perfecting a banana bread recipe to naming their sourdough starters. But how many of us can say we’ve turned our new hobby into a successful business?
Richaud Valls can. Valls is an actor and producer with Over 20 years experience. He has spent the last 10 of those years in New York, a city he loves very much. But when coronavirus outbreaks forced film and television sets to close, Valls, who was born in Paris and raised in Nîmes in southern France, found himself completely out of work.
To stay afloat, he started working as a courier for Caviar, but besides delivering food, Valls didn’t have much else to do in his spare time. When he “got bored one day” at his home in his West Village apartment in Manhattan, he decided to play with chopstick recipes. Eventually he ended up with a lot that made him say “Wow”.
“When I made the wand, I wanted to recreate the wand I had when I was a kid,” says Valls. And he succeeded. His baguettes resembled the ones he had eaten as a child in France – crunchy on the outside but light and airy on the inside.
It was a welcome change for Valls, who says he’s not a fan of the baguette options in New York or even Belgium and France. Every time he returns to Europe, he finds it harder to get good baguettes because big chains like Le Pain Quotidien and Maison Kayser have dominated the bakery market with “really dense” breads in the region. very similar taste.
Delighted with how his wands turned out, Valls began gifting them to his friends and family – to their delight. After seeing how much happiness a good baguette can bring to people, the actor decided to donate his pastry to his local community.
Valls registered as a home processor with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Safety and Inspection Division in late April. It has been approved for making bread, cakes and other baked goods as long as they do not contain eggs or fruits or vegetables.
The actor-turned-baker at home created a Instagram page and posted on his wands on NextDoor, an app that connects people to others in the same neighborhood. Soon he began to receive calls from his fellow West Village residents.
Valls prepared baguettes for his new clientele and delivered them directly so they could stay fresh. “I delivered the baguette directly to people so they had the hot and crispy baguette,” he says. “And they loved it.
It started to gain repeat customers as people got excited about chopsticks and the man who made them. For those who stayed home during the pandemic, seeing a friendly face bring homemade bread straight to their doorstep was a pleasant respite from a world of self-isolation. “For these people, it created a kind of relationship,” says Valls.
Fans of West Village de Valls were delighted with him – quickly spreading news of the “bread guy” who personally delivers freshly baked baguettes to other areas of New York City. He started taking orders from the upscale Manhattan neighborhoods and even Brooklyn, making it impossible for one person to deliver quickly. Find out a lender with no credit check loans.
The baker turned to William Jousset, another French actor left without gigs due to coronavirus outbreaks. The two had met during the deliveries of Caviar. Jousset owns an electric bicycle, which makes him an ideal delivery man for other neighborhoods. Once he agreed, he and Valls put a plan in place. While Valls takes care of deliveries a few blocks from his residence, Jousset takes orders for baguettes for longer distances. Thanks to the couple’s teamwork, the bread always reaches the customer deliciously warm.
But as more and more orders came in, Valls struggled to continue cooking in his kitchen at home. “I can’t make more than two or three baguettes at a time because my oven is small,” he says.
But one day when he and Jousset were drinking with friends in front of Turks & Frogs and Orient Express, they ended up chatting with Osman Cakir, the owner of the two nearby bars in West Village. According to Valls, after Cakir heard about his bakery operation and that his oven was too small to meet demand, the restaurateur said, “Okay, I love your story. Why don’t you use my oven at Orient Express? ”
After a simple handshake on the arrangement, Valls got the keys to the Orient Express from Cakir the next day. The actor, who had absolutely no professional culinary experience prior to this venture, suddenly found himself working in a commercial kitchen and purchasing ingredients from a baked goods distributor for chefs and bakers.
Valls’ bakery business (now carrying the motto “Baguette… by the way!”) Will soon transform into a café named Richaud later this month. Him, Jousset and Cakir are partners of the new restaurant, which will be located in the same space as the Orient Express. The cocktail bar is only open in the evening, so Richaud will operate during the day.
Every day in the kitchen of the Orient Express, Valls experiments and develops recipes for menu items such as sandwiches and salads. He says he only uses organic ingredients and there is absolutely no waste in his kitchen. And of course, he continues to bake his baguettes, which have now become New York’s not-so-well-kept secret. Local Food Bloggers and even Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery in the West Village loves their bread.
Richaud baguettes come in four varieties: plain, sesame, poppy and mixed (which contains garlic and onion). A baguette costs $ 5. Valls says they now deliver 100 fresh baguettes every day to Manhattan. Orders for Brooklyn are processed every Thursday.
Each order comes in a paper bag with the Richaud logo and a personal message from Valls. “I put a specialized message for them, so it’s never the same,” he says. And his customers love that the baguettes are smaller than those sold in other bakeries. With a bigger baguette, you could eat half of it, but the leftover bread just doesn’t taste as good the next day, says Valls. Its chopsticks are perfect for eating all at once.
But the real key to Valls’ success in baking is probably his heart. “It’s not just about the chopsticks. It’s also something human that you share, ”he says. “And people love it – I have a lot of friends now.”