Downtown Los Angeles has an incredible French heritage. You know that if you have been reading and watching our earlier blogs and videos. There are so many achievements made by the French, which is why we started Finding France in Los Angeles.
Some of the French influences we found include the Jeanne d’Arc statue at the site of LA’s first public hospital. The graceful Victorian homes built by early French settlers that are some of the few Victorian houses reaming in LA. And the 150 year old grape vine that is a living memorial to the time when French wine makers created the first wineries in California, helping start that industry.
To continue the story, or to bring it to the present, we found that LA still has a vibrant French community. Although there is not a “Frenchtown” so to speak, the French community is well connected and word has traveled back to France. Many new French countrymen (and women) are now coming to LA and bringing with them the skills and heritage that their forefathers brought long ago. Only this time, they are adapting it to their new home.
Which brings us to today’s Finding France find. Just blocks away from what was originally “Frenchtown” in downtown Los Angeles, the tradition continues. It is here we found Pitchoun Bakery.
Watch the Episode
First off, the name Pitchoun. Pitchoun is the affectionate term used in the South of France to designate children. It’s loosely translated to “kiddo” or “little one”, “little cutie” or “little sweetheart”. I think you get the idea. Along those lines, Pitchoun is a family story. Husband and wife owners Frédéric and Fabienne Soulies are both French. Frédéric is from the Southwest of France and Fabienne is from Monaco.
Frédéric comes from a family of French bakers and farmers. He inherited the love of the product and the passion of the work. Frédéric thus naturally learned to bake and graduated from the renowned bakery school in Paris, France Ecole de Boulangerie Patisserie de Paris. After many years as the general manager of a French food manufacturing company, Frédéric decided to live his dream and work out of passion–baking!
And like the French settlers that came before them, they fell in love with California and the business opportunities Los Angeles offered.
A French Bakery in Downtown Los Angeles
As Fabienne tells the story, “While we were scouting for a location my husband fell in love with this building, that’s an historical building. We are in front of the park so that was nice and that was charming.”
She also explains what Pitchoun is all about. “The basis of our business is the bread making and the pastries. My husband is a baker. They have been baking for three generations. So that was the core business–bread and making really European type of bread. I think we have a very authentic French bread with French recipes, and I think they really make the difference among the competition which is here.”
Pitchoun’s dedication to French tradition is a very serious task. For that we need to explain.
French Bread Laws
You see, back in France, being a baker is like have a sacred purpose. Bakers must adhere to strict laws about what, how and even when they can bake bread! On our video we go into just some of the rigorous standards set out in the French government’s 1993 “Decret Plan”, such as the length and width of a true baguette!
So with Pitchoun in Los Angeles, why would Fabienne and Frédéric care about that so far from France?
Fabienne explains, “We do because that is our DNA. We cannot refrain from doing that because that is how a baker learns to bake. So you have to wait. You have to shape it the way you have to shape it. So we do it yeah, as was the law was in France. Here there is not a law. Very often people tell us oh, you can make the baguette longer and we say ‘no, we won’t’ because otherwise it is not a baguette anymore. Or can you make a facille wider and we say ‘no we cannot. A ficelle is a ficelle.’”
His wife, Fabienne, and their three young “pitchouns” have happily settled in Los Angeles with the intent of sharing their best family recipes!
Come on down and enjoy this genuine French bakery in Downtown Los Angeles. ALLEZ!
Find France for Yourself
545 S. Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013