Chef baker Pierre Storti is a man who firmly believes in karma. As a professional baker, Storti has travelled around the world, taking with him the art of French bakery and his signature menu. He uses local ingredients and applies the knowledge he has gained working in a bakery for over a decade, collaborating with locals to craft a menu that caters to the preferences of the local palate while simultaneously developing the skills of the local bakers.
“I love helping people learn and gain experience. I am fortunate to have been born in France and be part of the white majority; however, I acknowledge that not everyone shares the same privileges. That’s why I want to travel around and show people that they can achieve what I have done too,” he says.
Pierre Storti is currently in Nepal and for the past month has been working closely with Feels Cafe in Jhamsikhel. As he works with the cafe’s bakers, he hopes to leave a part of himself behind, making a meaningful difference in the lives of the people he encounters.
“I always believe in the concept of sharing what I have with the world. I’ve done that in Brazil, India and Africa and now I am in Nepal I hope to have a positive impact on the lives of people. I feel the month I have spent here has been impactful,” he says.
Pierre Storti’s carefully crafted menu, officially launched on Sunday, features sourdough bread, croissants, baguettes, Danish, and KTM rolls among others. These items were created with Storti’s knowledge and experience he has amassed working in France, the Ritz London in London, Mandarin Oriental in Doha, Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai, Abidjan, West Africa, Nepal, Qatar and Tunisia.
With the official launch of a very French line of bakery items, Storti hopes he has managed to do what he came here to do, as he says he will be back in Nepal again where he aims to create more items for Nepalis and expats in the country to try.
“This is just the beginning,” he says.
A baker’s life
Pierre Storti’s connection with bread goes back to his childhood. As the youngest in the family, he would be asked by his parents and siblings to get baguettes for the family. However, it was not until the mid-2000s that he got into baking.
During a volunteering trip to Brazil, Storti understood the importance of bread. While living in the favelas with the locals, he could not taste a good break for months until one day he encountered a French businessman selling French flour in Brazil.
“Watching him make bread from scratch fascinated me,” he says. “It was my calling and when I returned to France, I enrolled in a baking school and my life changed.”
Since then, he has travelled around the world, spending six years in London, including some time at the Ritz London, before moving on to the Gulf countries and eventually coming to India. Having worked at top institutions globally, Storti believes that there is more to baking than just the final product and says that the art of baking does not receive the credit it deserves.
“They take bakers for granted. They think it is easy to make bread or a croissant but they fail to realise that one person has been sacrificing sleep and time with their loved ones to ensure the dough is ready for people to enjoy during the day,” he says.
Things, however, are changing, thanks to the advent of social media. That said, he feels that owners of bakeries and other institutions need to understand how hard it is for them.
“The spotlight is on us now. The work, however, is just as hard,” he says.
All bread items at Feels are created by using a sourdough that he calls Maya. Storti chose the name Maya for a specific purpose, as he believes that there needs to be love in the process of creating food, and that love has the power to produce wonderful things.
“Food is all about love. If you don’t have love, the food will not come out good,” he says.
Using local flour, it took Pierre Storti and the team of Feels Cafe nearly a week to make the sourdough from scratch.
“We even placed it near the shrine in the cafe and played music for it. I believe there is life inside the dough, and I enjoy passing on positive energy. That’s why I believe our bread is quite good now,” he says.
Pierre Storti looks at the sourdough with a sense of pride, referring to himself and his fellow bakers as microbiologists. It is clear that for Storti, the sourdough is the soul of many bakery items.
“This is so important, I take it along with me when I travel. Mine is 10 years old,” he says.
Taste of France in Nepal
All the products available at Feels are the result of a month of extensive collaboration between Storti and the cafe staff. The menu combines French influences with elements of Nepali culture.
“It’s important as Nepalis have a different palette. What we have tried to create is a blend of France and Nepal. I’ve not touched the croissant as it is traditional French. But other items have been crafted for a Nepali taste.”
The produce used is also local. Storti explains the crucial role played by suppliers in creating high-quality products. The flour is sourced locally, as is the butter, which comes from the French cheesemaker Francois Driard.
“Most French bakers do not use local products but I believe that is a wrong approach. Using what is available and making French bread is what I love doing. It makes me feel good.”
His craftsmanship is evident in the quality of the products on offer at Feels. The croissants not only taste great but also boast a delightful volume. They are buttery, creamy, and melt in one’s mouth. The sourdough bread, served sandwiched for breakfast and brunch, reflects the team at Feels adopting his vision of creating top-quality products.
One of the brains behind Feels Cafe, Prajjwal SJB Rana says their aim through the collab is to give authentic products.
“We do not want to over-commercialise. This is why the menu is not as extensive as we want to offer people quality products,” he says.
He is also full of gratitude for Pierre Storti who agreed to be part of this project.
“He could have said no and moved on. But he was kind and humble enough to agree to collaborate with us which I feel shows how big he is as a person,” says Rana.
Both Storti and Rana feel this is just the beginning of this collaboration. They feel this collaboration can reach new heights.
“He has promised us that he will come back. We have only focussed on producing a few items during this visit as we want to perfect these items before he comes back the next time,” says Rana.
The collaboration has also benefited his staff, says Rana. Learning from Storti, the Feels team is now confident in creating things on their own.
“I have always told them they can do it too. All it takes is some hard work,” says Storti.