Last week we brought all of our General Managers to Montpellier.  Sunny and beautiful as it was, this was more than just a jolly holiday.  This was the chance for our team to get back to basics with what makes LPQ so special.  We visited our founder, Alain Coumont’s vineyard in the south of France and spent inspiring time with the man himself, gaining a deeper understanding of why he started Le Pain Quotidien 25 years ago and why our brand is still so relevant today.

IMG_0141

Alain started LPQ based on a simple premise, he wanted to provide people with the best and freshest organic bread.  At the root of it all, he wanted, and still wants, to serve guests simple, quality food – good food that also does good.  Alain is the embodiment of this phrase.  He bought his 1750s country house and the land around it in 2001, specifically so that he could grow his own organic vegetables and wine.  “Good food that does good” means so much to Alain.  It must be good for himself, the guests he serves and, of course, the planet.

Before preparing a wholesome lunch for the team, we all took a trip to Alain’s vegetable patch to see what was available. Greens, broccoli and the most peppery rocket we’ve ever had, dug straight from the ground by our General Managers and then enjoyed with roast chicken and mash cooked by Alain just an hour later.

IMG_0133

Alain’s garden is filled with rows of every kind of green leafy vegetable, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, garlic, leeks and herbs.  What a fantastic place for the team to get inspired about our menu and its seasonality and providence.

IMG_0176

Also inspiring to the team is the hands on approach Alain takes.  He runs the show, looking after the land and acting as caretaker and gardener.  On a team tour of the grounds, he stops to sample a few wild vegetables and pull up some weeds, showcasing exactly why knowing where your food has come from is crucial.

IMG_9937

It wasn’t just the beautiful outdoors that made our teams’ imaginations come alive.  We also got to explore the inside of Alain’s home, which again, encapsulates how authentic to our roots LPQ had remained.  His kitchen and dining-room take up the whole ground floor of what was originally a silk factory that adjoins the main house.  A large communal table, one of the signature points in all LPQs around the world, features proudly in his lounge.  Alain is, after all, the ultimate host.

IMG_0091

The team left Montpellier feeling revived, refreshed and truly proud to be part of the LPQ family.  We shared great, organic food and wine, picked fresh from the ground and laughed over stories of what made Le Pain Quotidien so unique all those years ago and why it’s even more unique now.  In this busy, time-consuming world, it was truly refreshing to take time away, eating at Alain’s communal table and reflecting on how now, more than ever, LPQ’s simplistic, authentic approach is truly something to be proud of.

13254583_10154236326994515_7902981151143185637_n