Internationally renowned boulanger Eric Kayser has opened his first UK site on London’s Baker Street. Alice Cooke caught up with him to find out what took him so long to get here.
The delicious smell of Maison Kayser is what hits you first. As the aroma drifted onto Baker Street on a frosty January morning, I felt like a cartoon character, mildly hypnotised as I followed my nose to the source.
And I wasn’t alone. The bakery was buzzing with businessmen, tourists and what I can only describe as Kayser groupies – young professionals hanging around anxiously to find a glimpse of the man himself.
A fourth-generation French master baker, Eric Kayser opened his first Maison Kayser in Paris in 1996 and there are now more than 100 Maison Kayser bakeries in 21 countries.
Which made my first question to him an easy one - what took him so long to get to the UK?
A wry smile spreads across his face, a little like a child who knows they’ve been caught out.
“Well...” he laughs, “the thing is that I had to find the right time, exactly the right place, and England had to be ready!”
I suggest we probably could have handled it sooner, and he concedes “it has been a good while coming.
“I have been looking for a UK site for over two years, and settled on Baker Street because the Marylebone area, I think, has had something of a renaissance.”
The Baker Street Maison Kayser will offer takeaway or eat-in pâtisserie ranging from cakes and loaves to financiers and macarons. It includes a 60-cover restaurant, and is open from 7am-11pm.
All bread, brioches and Viennoiseries are made on the premises using natural liquid leaven produced in the Fermento Levain machine invented by Kayser and fellow baker Patrick Castagna,
Then there’s the sourdough. Kayser is famous for his unique sourdough breads that rely entirely on a liquid natural starter without commercial yeast.
He’s brought that starter and his custom-made lacto-fermentation equipment to London, along with a team of three bakers from Maison Kayser venues in Jakarta and Paris .
“Natural fermentation is the essence of our bread and we are proud to have created a wide range of breads that serve every kind of taste,” he says. “We believe fresh baked bread is a joy that should be shared and experienced every day.”
Breads available at Maison Kayser includes baguettes, tourtes de meule, whole-wheat bread and rye bread, alongside sourdough, of course. Framed pictures of sumptuous-looking breads line the walls, with slogans such as “every great day starts with great bread”.
We wouldn’t argue with that.
In brief: Eric Kayser
- Fourth-generation French master baker Eric Kayser became a companion of prestigious artisan organisation Tour de France of baking at the age of 18
- He opened his first Maison Kayser in Paris in 1996
- At the age of 30, he co-invented the Fermento Levain natural liquid leaven machine
- There are more than 100 Maison Kayser bakeries in 21 countries, including 19 in Tokyo, five in New York City and three in Singapore.
- He is the author of four books including The Larousse Book of Bread