A special brunch last month: I was lucky to have breakfast with Dahmane, who founded BonMatin, ma favourite French bakery in London. Hidden in North London, right next to Finsbury Park underground, this place is a real jewel. Its relaxed atmosphere, its delicious, healthy and colourful savoury dishes and home-made pastries always brought me back.
I was curious to know what was behind all this, so together we explored his story and his influences.
It’s the story of a pleasant meeting with a man who is as generous and inviting as his cuisine.
Dahmane is no more than a self-made man. He started with nothing when he began his career in the fast-food industry in Paris, at Quick’s. After 8 years with Pasta Si, the first pasta bar in Paris, he decided to join his brother who left to open his own bakery,, Sable d’Or in London.
8 years later, in 2011, Dahmane started out and developed his own vision of baking, with boulangerie Bon Matin, influenced both by his Algerian grandmother’s healthy and generous cuisine, and by French know-how.
Ideas arrived fast to this man, who is passionate about food. Dahmane is willing to talk about his idea for his next restaurant, which will offer delicious tapas grillades. I won’t spill the beans!
I am impressed both by his career and his professionalism. Anxious to live up to his ambitions, he did not hesitate to take a renowned catering course at Westminster Kingsway College for three years, while managing his bakery.
The school, which has had Jamie Oliver as a former student, is known for being demanding. The description of the lessons reminds me of a more advanced Topchef, with surprises at the final exam. Expect a lot of pressure!
Time passes by and dishes arrive – to my delight! At coffee time (a cappuccino with the unmissable blueberry muffin for myself), I ask Dahmane about his views on cuisine, both as a businessman and as an accomplished chef. To him, London is really today’s capital of cuisine. As he rightly says, “London is the European New York.” Thanks to its diversity, this international city is the new breeding ground for creativity in food – new concepts are discovered daily. Its liveliness, open-mindedness and flexible regulations allow beginners and experts alike to start out, and cuisine ventures to happen. No more clichés: you can eat really well in Britain!
Apart from the continent, Dahmane considered Japan for its extreme refinement. He tells me about the Japanese ability to re-use and improve a food concept to perfection. I cannot agree more. Although I have been to Italy about ten times, the best pasta I have tasted was in Tokyo! I cannot wait to return there and uncover the secret of this country which has the largest number of star-rated restaurants in the world.
Three hours later, it is already time to depart and leave the chef to his work.
A big thank you to Dahmane for this enjoyable interview!
Let’s go: Boulangerie Bon Matin
178 Tollington Park, London N4 3AJ
Téléphone :020 7263 8633