Anya Grottel-Brown is a recent transplant to LA from the East Coast. Her series, The Newcomer Journals, is about all things local that are new, different and same.
If you’ve spent any time in France, be it Paris or the countryside, you’ll have no trouble conjuring up an image of the local boulangerie (after all, there is one on practically every corner), with its baskets of short and tall baguettes and a counter laid out with flaky, buttery croissants. It’s saying something that Amir Abdulh of the Breadbar in the Larchmont Farmers Market takes his bread as seriously as the French do.
Amir’s uncle, Ali Chelabi, started the business seven years ago with the idea of bringing the bread-making techniques and traditions of a small French town to Los Angeles. Ali, who is Lebanese, was born in France and lived there until his early twenties. He studied business at Princeton University but ultimately succumbed to his passion for bread. He has two bakeries, in Century City Mall and El Segundo. Amir and his brother Yousif opened the Breadbar stand at the Larchmont Farmers’ Market a year and a half ago.
“French bread-making is an art,” Amir says. “Ingredients are kept for generations.” When Ali first started the business, he brought bakers from France to instruct the staff in ‘breadcraft:’ combining simple recipes of flour, water, leavening agent, and salt with the old-world blending, fermenting and baking techniques. He continues to operate in the French tradition, baking breads in small artisanal batches and keeping them open instead of bagged. The bakeries now have 80 different types of all-natural breads. The Larchmont Farmers’ Market staples include ciabatta, rye, rustic, and sourdough breads, as well as different croissants and pastries. Needless to say, the Breadbar also serves up baguettes.
Amir has inherited his uncle’s enthusiasm for good bread. “I like our sourdough bread with alpine cheese,” he says. “Sourdough is also great with soup. And croissants are great for sandwiches. Of course, it isn’t just about the savory. Our almond croissant is just the best.”