BEIRUT: At the heart of any foodie exists the dream of walking along the Avenue Victor Hugo with a French baguette in hand for an evening of bread, cheese, and wine; but for most people, the magnificently succulent baguette would be half devoured by the time the promenade-long walk has ended.
The crispy layer outside beautifully mixed together with the softness within can leave any food lover fantasizing about their next visit to the city of light.
Now, that feeling can be reignited in Beirut.
Fait Maison®, an e-commerce innovative business owned by seasoned Lebanese entrepreneur and French bakery lover, Sami Darouni, is aiming to bring high quality artisanal French bakeries to the streets of the capital, with a twist.
The wide range of croissants, bread, muffins, Viennoiseries (French for “things of Vienna”), and gluten-free goods are all blast frozen to preserve the pastries down to their core, allowing customers to indulge in the taste of Parisian delights after a mere 20 minutes in the oven.
“Currently, there is a lot of focus on back-to-home comforts; people want good quality and healthy products, to indulge at home,” Darouni told Annahar, highlighting that such products cater to a target audience of young working couples between the ages of 25 to 40 who are looking for quality and convenience to savor at home.
Blast freezing is the process of pushing cold air at high velocity across food products in order to freeze them as quickly as possible.
Fait Maison’s® products are 100 percent made in France and the European Union in an artisanal manner cultivated from the best chef's recipes. The goods are frozen at the source and delivered to houses across the greater Beirut area, with full temperature control from the company's warehouses to homes.
“We have refrigerated vans to deliver across the capital and an electric car for neighborhood deliveries equipped with a freezer shipped from the U.S., both are hooked to a GPS and temperature monitoring system that allow us to remain in control of product's quality all the way to consumers' homes,” Darouni said.
The beauty behind Fait Maison’s® frozen goods is that it offers portion control, customers can take their desired bakeries home for baking adding whatever triggers their fancy with it while keeping the rest in the freezer for later.
“Frozen foods’ importance is by reducing waste as well as having no preservatives in it, especially if it’s being blast frozen, coupled with high-quality ingredients that are handpicked,” he said.
Fait Maison’s® platform brings an e-commerce base for frozen foods in Lebanon, although e-commerce penetration is considered in its infancy within the country and the region and mainly used for entertainment and electronics purchases.
The new concept aims to challenge the norm by banking on the local evolution of consumer trends and e-commerce.
The web platform showcases the product range as well as their prices, accompanied with neat illustrations guiding customers through the culinary process, with a mobile application being developed.
With a promise of delivering convenience, portion control, consistent quality and good value for money, Darouni’s meticulous attention to detail has driven him to even handpick the packaging as per international norms that suits the criteria of blast frozen products to retain all the flavors and goodness of his pastries.
“The people that work here have a special set of equipment they use, to keep them hygienic and warm – since they’re working with frozen products – while holding everything to a high sanitizing standard,” Darouni said.
Darouni, whose entire career has been in fast moving consumer goods, argued that the frozen food industry is developing at an increasing rate with the advancements of technology, especially in terms of blast freezing. According to his numbers, the global frozen food market is estimated to reach $156 billion by 2020.
While the frozen bakery industry is projected to reach $18 billion and growing at 6.6 percent in compounded annual growth rate, with hopes of expansion due to factors such as busy lifestyles, rising urbanization, and rising population of working women.
The seasoned entrepreneur considered that Middle Eastern consumers like to snack at home, since more than 60 percent of snacking occasions take place at home; In addition to an increasing percentage of young, high-income workforce and a growing exposure to global culture via the internet and media.
Darouni, who founded Fait Maison® with a partner he worked alongside during his tenure at PepsiCo, considers that the prime challenge facing his business is the people’s acceptance of his concept, while the other is “the e-commerce factor, thus one must ask a question; how fast will this trend get picked up?”
The next phase for the boutique is for the business to expand regionally and internationally.
“When all is said and done, and we’ve gone to the highest peaks and built the fastest machines, there is still going to be room for someone to serve you a piece of bread or bake you a succulent croissant,” Darouni told Annahar.
Annahar correspondent Maria Matar contributed to this report.
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