Everything French In JA
Located in the nook of Sovereign North Plaza is a quintessential gem that specialises in the art of piquant French delicacies. Eleni’s French Bakery is the only one of its kind in Jamaica and prides itself on having the best local French bakers on the island. “My bakers were all trained in Jamaica and are experts in French pastry and bread,” said an enthusiastic Eleni Daperis, managing director at Eleni’s.
After moving to Jamaica, Daperis was disheartened at how difficult it was to find freshly made bread that was healthy and lacked preservatives. “Bread is not suppose to last for more than a week. The bread we are eating is filled with preservatives to make it last longer. I wanted a healthier alternative to what we have here in Jamaica. My bakery specialises in sourdough bread, which is healthier for the large intestines” said the Canadian. After discovering this untapped niche, Daperis and her husband, Dmitri Toupikov, decided to invest into the opening of a French bakery.
“The journey was crazy,” laughed Daperis as she unveiled the struggles that came with establishing her business. A number of foreign chefs departed the bakery after not meeting her standards and requirements. “After a while we decided to take matters into our own hands. My husband did not know how to make sourdough bread. With the help of one of the previous pastry chefs, research and a bit of youtube, he created all the recipes for the different breads we have here,” said Daperis.
As the bakery continued to grow and become more popular, the couple realised that they needed more help. “Our current head baker Shevan Sutherland came on board in 2017 as a person that did odd jobs and unfolded boxes,” stated Daperis. Sutherland had zero experience with French baking, but was eager to learn and had very quick hands. “He worked hard despite having violent outbreaks in Rose Town, where he is from. He was still able to get to work and move beyond a lot of things that tried to hold him back,” said Daperis as she praised Sutherland for his dedication.
Her head pastry chef, Cian Taylor, also had no experience in baking. “She was our best sales person and my husband took her from the front store, trained her, and now she makes all our pastries and cakes on her own,” she said. “The whole experience was nerve-wracking. I had no idea what I was doing, but Eleni really pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to see that I could do so much more,” explained Taylor. “Cian is better than all the foreign chefs that I brought in in the beginning. She learned very quickly and completely mastered the art of French pastry,” said Daperis.
She admitted that she will always look for the potential to grow in her employees. “ We have the best things and people right here in Jamaica. All we have to do is invest in them and watch them blossom into something great,” she explained.
The work of Sutherland, Taylor and Miss Francis, who is responsible for the delectable breakfast selection available at the bakery, is essential to the growth and success of Eleni’s French Bakery. Daperis is an advocate for buying and investing in Jamaica to build its economy.