This is Marc-André Cyr, the Baker on the Go / Boulanger Itinérant. Hopping from house to house, teaching private baking workshops in Montreal, he leaves behind a trail of breadcrumbs, along with the smell of freshly baked bread in your home and a passion for breadmaking. His baking CV includes Olive & Gourmando, MELK Bar à Café, and Le Pain dans les Voiles. My first encounter with Marc-André was at the Mezzaluna cooking school, where he teaches some of the baking courses. Claudia had bought me a gift certificate for a class and I chose the Special Breads class (CHEESE BREAD!!!). He’s a funny down-to-earth guy and kept us entertained while teaching us and answering our questions. Some of us were scribbling notes frantically as there was a useful tip or trick in each sentence he was saying.
As he finished mixing the ingredients together and started the kneading process, everyone got quiet for a moment and those in the back stood up from their chairs to see better. All workshop attendees were mesmerized, staring at his deft hands to try and pick up his technique. He moved the sticky dough around quickly yet delicately, stretching the sides, folding it over itself, picking it up and laying it down at another angle, rolling it around, tucking creases, occasionally tossing a light layer of flour on the counter. The questions started flowing in and he answered all of them while his hands and arms continued the automated process. Soon enough, the sticky dough had transformed into a nice and smooth elastic ball.
OK. For my Montreal Artists series, I had always been interested in the creative process behind people’s different lines of work. I hadn’t intended in adding a BAKER to my list until I saw Marc-André making bread and as he started talking about breadmaking in a tongue-in-cheek way, saying things like bread is POETRY and this elastic ball of dough is so full of hope. I think what really fascinates me in the creative process of artists is the effortless familiarity in their movements and the connection they have with their tools.
When I eventually contacted Marc-André, he was friendly and enthusiastic about the collaboration. I showed up at his house, we started chatting. He happened to be making bread while I happened to be taking pictures. Since Jacques and his hammer, I’ve been curious about which object these creatives feel most connected to. Can you guess what Marc’s favourite baking tool is? You can see it in this picture:
It’s neither of the dough scrapers, it’s not the massive rolled up bag of flour, it’s not the funny-looking whisk thing (although he does love it). It’s the solid maple wood table he’s working on. He had a woodworker custom-build it 20 years ago and it’s still going strong.
So let’s leave Marc at his table as he waits for the dough to rise (I like to think that this is what all bakers look like while they wait for the dough to rise, staring in the distance, pondering the meaning of life and yeast).
If you know someone who loves to bake and whose birthday is coming up, get a group of people together and have the Baker on the Go come teach a private workshop as a gift. I think it's a nice, different and creative gift, and everyone would have a really fun experience. Aaaand... you might also hear more about Marc-André as there's a special project in the works being cooked up!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned by subscribing to Postcards from Alex for more!