Take a quick look around your space in this moment. What do you see? Possibly, surrounding you are phones, computers, pencils, that extra cup of coffee, and maybe a project that needs tending? There is something all of these objects have in common; they are each tools that have the ability to enable amazing outcomes when harnessed by a good process. Process is something that can be quick and sometimes effortless, but there are times when a process is slow and evolving — stepping forwards and backwards. Sometimes, the process itself is what makes a product unique and superior to its competitors.
That is just what “Amiette” manufactured by Kelia Nature S.L.U has discovered — a better process for making the often quality-challenged category of gluten free baked goods — and the result brings gourmet bread back to the gluten-deprived. Kelia Nature S.L.U amazing process story starts with a baker from the south of France that expanded to Barcelona, Spain is now inching closer to your doorstep through a partnership with an American company, Vieira’s Bakery Inc. Here is their family adventure, told by Stéphanie Fernandez, to bring you and your family unbelievably wonderful European gluten-free bread.
Tell me about your company — what is your origin story?
When my father, Louis Fernandez, was a young man and seeking his niche in the craft baking world, he started his training in a Bakery School in France. Upon completion, an important bread company offered him a job, but he knew he wanted to create his own family business — to be a French Maître Boulanger- a master baker. In 1992, my father began the hard work of opening a bakery consulting company in France and soon became known worldwide for his creations.
What are your products why did you decide to launch a company?
Launching a company was exciting for my father. He was a master baker continuing to grow in his presence around the world. In 2010, I had some health issues and removed gluten from my diet, but being a daughter of a master baker, quitting gluten was extremely difficult. Bread, pastries, pasta are all a part our country’s culture and my family’s, so my father and I talked about our options. He wanted to make the community and myself a delicious gluten free bread that we could all have.
Anyone can make gluten-free bread with the right ingredients, but it is the process that makes the bread rich in flavor, soft in the right areas all while keeping a crunch on the top. We have invested a great deal in developing this process, so I can’t go into much detail about it as it is a big part of our competitive advantage. The important thing to know is that how you make gluten-free bread is as important as picking high-quality ingredients for creating superior quality.
Our bread, gluten-free and lactose-free, was named Amiette-meaning little friend — which describes our bread perfectly. Bread should be a friend to everyone, even those needing to be gluten-free!
Process and ingredient selection seems to be very important to this category. How did you decide on the ingredients themselves and where to source them?
When my father started piecing together the finest and different ingredients from France to the fields of Spain he found the process to be rewarding. The evolution of our bread took eight years and my father has since then patented the recipe and process and supplies gluten free bread in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, and other countries, and now the United States. We source our sorghum, rice and extra virgin olive oil from a local producer in Spain. We’ve added fiber to our bread and our starch is rich in vitamins. An additional surprise in the bread is a little extra snap of Vitamin D, people are often lacking this nutrient rich vitamin and we want to be the provider. We travel a little further north to France arriving at a stone mill for our buckwheat flour to elaborate our sourdough. We enjoy making trips to see the process of the milling, which ensures our true connection to authentic ingredients. Deciding where to source these ingredients came when connecting with different producers who were local, genuine and are able to be trusted with the finest quality of products. We love working together, and in a hands-on way to have the best product.
Tell me about what your company is doing on sustainability. Do you measure the triple bottom line (environmental, social, economic performance and outcomes)?
Getting to know the community we source our products from has been rewarding in many ways. We place a high priority on both the people we serve and those who serve us — so as we have grown this family business we engage with our employees — getting to know them like family.
Learning from the community of people and their new ideas is of high-value to us, so we provide internships, workshops for children to learn to prepare and bake properly, and send those who desire to work with us to a true baking school. An employee working in our bakery becomes an extension to our family. We encourage employee engagement and value the energy and exciting ideas to continue the growth of our organization for the betterment of the community.
We only pick the finest ingredients to work with and there is full traceability in our product. All sources of produce we use for the bread must be traced and on our visits to our potential suppliers, we check certification. We are creating employment in the South of France and Barcelona where the countries have a significant shortage of good jobs. Our second bakery (opening in December), was going to be shut down and each person from that community who worked there would have lost their job, so we are going to work with them all on instead of outsourcing.
On the energy side, we are integrating solar panels and the use of billets-compressed wood leftovers, for the ovens we bake in.
Our goal is to provide the best bread and although it took a while, the wait was worth it, because it is authentic, family-made bread; bread that has supported communities, provided nourishment and great taste will always be worth it!
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