Q. What made you make chestnut madeleine?
A. I opened Bam Ssal Dang on the Christmas Eve of 2016 with rice bread as the main menu. The business went well for a year and I sold around $800 to $1,300 a day. Then the sales dropped for some reason until the next year. I ascribed it to lack of marketing and to increased number of bakeries in the city. In a word, I failed the competition. I met my wife around this time and she cheered me up a lot. She worked as a product planner for department stores and read the trend very well. She suggested me to size down theproduct lines but make it unique with local specialty instead. Naturally, chestnut came up.
Q. How was the respond?
A. I actually worried very much about sizing down the bread lines. But this made me and my wife traveled to France to learn recipes and to get some inspiration. We know people like chestnut in general but the fact that it is seasonal was a challenge. Then my uncle who grew chestnut gave a tip or two how to effectively manage autumn chestnut and it helped us to eventually introduce Gongju chestnut madeleine. The respond? It is more than we expected both on/off line. Now, we have set the standard to make chestnut madeleine: 300kg rice for 350kg consumption a month.
Q. What does bakery mean to you as a chef?
A. I was a weakling when I was a boy. I visited hospital frequently and didn’t have much time to play with my friends as I was slow to catch things up. So I rather went home straight after the school. My uncle ran a restaurant at that time and I often went there to help washing the dishes and enjoyed watching how food are prepared and made. I saw this TV series <May Lovely Sam Soon> when I was in 6th grade and I told my mom that I wanted to learn bakery. As there was no institute in Gongju, my mom found one in Seoul where my older sisters lived. Touching the dough and making it into bread was such a pleasure. It might sound weird but bread never lies. When my condition is no good the bread I made tells it as a result. I liked this very much.
Q. How often do you travel to France?
A. I visited France with my cousin sister in the last year of my middle school. I didn’t much know about bakery yet and I wasn’t familiar with technical terms. One thing I remember is that madeleine in France was completely different from madeleine in my homeland. Then I started to make a regular visit to learn about more of the recipe and bread as a whole. It is interesting to know that latest madeleine in France becomes latest in South Korea after 2 years.
Q. What is most important when you make bread?
A. Marketing I think is very important. Bakers tend to depend on craftsmanship in the past but lack of marketing can turn it into nothing. I use domestically grown ingredients first of all and then I think of addinglocal specialty marketing-wise. I bring up a pun for my new menu to add humor and I focus on bread everybody can love. I and my wife happened to see LUSH soaps that have face of a farmer on the package. We later knew that LUSH is famous for attention gathering marketing.
Q. I heard Egtech distributes your bread online?
A. I came to know Egtech from my acquaintance and I liked its win-win business concept. Until then, I kept myself busy finding the channels without much knowledge about online marketing. I can say I was lucky to know Egtech and we are currently working on collaboration.
Q. Lastly, do you have any plan at the moment?
A. I have brewed this plan of creating jobs for seniors on nonstore retailing based. I’m thinking of about 20 nationwide at the initial stage. It will create a good impression if I can use appealing brand image and storyline. In fact, I’m running training for those who have interest in learning my bread at the moment. I show them how chestnut madeleine is made and how to do marketing.
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