When Frederic Laski's parents met in Paris at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, a romantic expanse of lush greenery and small waterfalls, they probably didn't expect him to go into the hospitality business. But today, Chaumont is the name of Laski and his wife Laila Abddaim's brand new Beverly Hills bakery. Occupying about 4,000 square feet on Beverly Drive near Wilshire, the bakery has been doing a brisk business in buttery goods since it opened two weeks ago.
Last year, Laski and Abddaim were working at Dannon, the yogurt company. They met at work, though Laski worked on measuring Dannon's environmental impact while Abddaim crunched numbers in the finance department. After marrying, they decided they needed a new project. Chaumont, a traditional French bakery, is that new gig.
There's brand new European kitchen equipment in the bakery at Chaumont, an investment most bakeries in the U.S. never make. In addition to the proofer, sheeter, deck ovens and mixer, there's a dough divider and a machine that puts the little points on the end of baguettes. In France, a bakery (boulangerie) cannot legally be called a bakery if the baker is freezing or otherwise storing raw or par-cooked dough before baking it. This regulation does not exist in LA, but Chaumont is sticking with their homeland's tradition and only baking freshly proofed dough each morning at 3 a.m. Denis Bocq, who was previously with Le Pain Quotidien, is making the bread.
The bakery opens at 6:30 each morning, which is when pastry chef Nicolas Rancon brings out his croissants (plain, chocolate, almond and chocolate-almond), chouquettes (small puffs of sugared pastry), eclairs, tarts and cakes. Among them are simple apple tarts made of puff pastry and tall hats of cream puffs stacked and filled with with raspberry preserves.
The menu offers savory items as well, including a standard selection of elegant sandwiches and salads. A lemony kale salad with dates and goat cheese is one of the best sellers; also popular is the Nicoise with kalamata olives. Sandwiches include a Banh Mi, one with smoked Scottish salmon and a grilled vegetable version with balsamic glaze. In addition to the croissants, there are American-style egg dishes for breakfast and, delightfully, a bowl of strawberries and cream. Open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Chaumont is already eyeing opportunities for expansion. [ELA]