My life in the grocery trade

Franck Brétéché, chef/owner of Mange Tout Café, Deli & Patisserie

Franck Brétéché, Chef/Owner of Mange Tout Café, Deli & Patisserie

BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR BACKGROUND

I lived in Nantes, France until I was 19, where I trained as an apprentice in Patissier, Chocolatier, Glacier, Confiseur (pastry chef, chocolate maker, ice cream maker and sugar work). I moved to Ireland with my parents and brother in 1989.

During this time, I have worked in restaurants, bakeries and hotels in England and Ireland.

I worked in Belfast from 1990 and started in Café Royale in the new Castle Court Complex under Trevor Smylie (former owner of Old Post Office Lisbane). I then worked for Kennedy’s Bakeries and set up a Continental Bakery for them on the Lisburn Road. Production was then moved to their bakery on Stockman’s Lane before they closed down. I also worked in Antica Roma and Villa Italia before taking up the position of bakery manager for Paul Rankin of Roscoff’s. I then worked for Simon Dougan at the Yellow Door, Portadown for 10 years as head of his pastry section.

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?

The best part is getting to do what I love… bake. I could not put in the hours of work that I do if I didn’t enjoy it so much. The worst part is probably the early start. I sometimes have to get up at 4am if we have a particularly busy day ahead. I also don’t enjoy paperwork but am lucky as my wife Tina looks after this.

BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY

My usual time to get up is at 6am. I start by baking my bread and scones for the day and prepping for the breakfast rush. I then head to Downpatrick to pick up some daily essentials before the café opens at 8.30am. The morning is taken up with deliveries, preparing my display on the deli counter and cooking/baking. There are 32 seats in our café and lunchtime service is very busy for sit in and takeaway. From 2.30pm onwards, I spend the rest of the day going over what we have on for the week ahead and ordering supplies accordingly and depending on the day it is, I may start baking sometimes until late at night. We supply wholesale baked pies, quiches and patisserie to stores so we contact them for their orders for the week. Most weekends my wife Tina, my daughter Ellie and I work at farmers’ markets up and down the country. I bake everything from scratch so my job is very labour intensive. I could also have a function to cater or an event to attend.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

I’m proud all of the awards that we have won which include a Special Recognition award from Newry Mourne and Down Council, and Best Artisan Food Campaign from Ulster Grocer, as well as numerous Taste of Ulster Awards. But probably my proudest moment of all was the day I took the plunge by going self employed and opened my own shop. That felt good.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY?

I enjoy interacting with all customers and already knew a lot of them personally before I began supplying them. When I worked in Portadown, I had an 80-mile round trip daily; now I live where I work and have a three-minute commute. With the explosion of artisan markets in Co Down, we are able to pop up lots in our local area and are not restricted to working in our shop. We now attend the new and very successful monthly artisan markets in Downpatrick, Newcastle and soon-to-start Portaferry Market, as well as Comber and Hillsborough. We are in an excellent position of being able to bring our products to the public and speak to our customers face to face.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?

I like spending time with my family and play Petanque (French Boules) with my dad and brother. We played regularly when we lived in France but also play for Ireland at an international level. I also enjoy fishing and am lucky to live near Ardglass and the Quoile River. Recently I have taken up weight lifting.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW

I used to own a touring racing car and took part in track races at Bishops Court, Nutts Corner and Kirkistown.

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