Mommy Niri Hosts Local Baking Event With Panera!NEWS | Nirasha Jaganath | May 2, 2011 at 9:38 am
You would be hard pressed not to find fans of Panera and it would be no surprise why people are such fans once you have eaten there you would know exactly why. If the freshly made bread would not seduce you in the lure of wi-fi would certainly do the trick. Personally I think that place is a blogger’s haven. While speaking to Panera about my awe for them we discussed having a little blogger meetup. Thoughts of sharing the new menu were tossed in the air but I knew the thing that Panera is known for is their bread. Yes, those sandwiches are lip-smacking and those drinks are drool-worthy but like my daughter said when she ate their bread “Mama, it tastes like the bread you make” – (yes I bake bread).
We decided to bake bread. We could have left it there but we also figured since Panera was a great place for families and children, we decided to bake with children. Sadly I could only host a few bloggers since space inside the bakery was limited. We started the event out with tasting out several types of breads with some amazing oils, spreads and dips. We learned how bread is scored based on their type and also for easy breaking for their own use – yup when they break that piece for your bread bowl now you know how. I also learned that the baker had very cool reddish brown clogs and since I am an avid fan of clogs myself chalked that up to good taste.
Then I learned that those bakers work from 10pm until 6am (gulp!) and as someone who worked shift just to train an employee while I was an engineer I have the utmost respect for working those hours. So you know what that means? Yes, you get fresh bread every single day in Panera. So every time you bite into that baguette in Panera remember that it was baked in the wee hours of that very morning. Ooh, I can see what you are thinking “So Mommy Niri, what happens to all the old bread?” – and of course with Mommy Niri Cares always at the back of my mind, I asked. So Panera has a program called Dough Nation and you can apply to have your charity come to take away the day’s bread. They did mention that they wished more people would look into it as they hated to have to toss bread away.
Then we got into the bakery and needless to say it was a snug fit, especially with the kids. We got to make baguettes and my little girl doused it with so much flour I thought it would not be palatable – but since we got to take it home I am glad to say it was delicious! So we all had a real education while exploring Panera’s baking habits. I love that they use no preservatives and though I hope they had all natural colors in their foods it was good to see them not wince when I mentioned it. Based on their background and commitment to healthy living I am pretty sure that is on the horizon. I asked about nuts and allergies and was pleased to hear they have some choices (though of course many would love that expanded) and also practice safety so cross-contamination does not occur. Gluten free is another section I would love seeing catering for and while there is none yet due to their not believing this is a large enough market, I am pretty sure the market size will help steer some of those changes.
Check out this video on how the bakers at Panera score their bread (for an entire video of the event check out The Papa Post)
I co-hosted this with Panera gratis/free because I really feel strongly about promoting healthy avenues. I also wanted to do something for bloggers who don’t necessarily get the opportunity to always travel to events.