From Finsbury to Hampstead: the man behind Boulangerie Bon Matin
Passion for food is in Dahmane Ladjassa’s DNA.
The Algerian-born chef helped in his father’s restaurant as a child before leaving for France aged 20 and then travelling to England to open a business. He later qualified as a professional chef, having studied fine dining and gastronomy at Westminster Kingsway College, where he was awarded a distinction and prizes.
Now he owns two branches of Boulangerie Bon Matin, affectionately dubbed BBM by locals. The shops in Hampstead and Finsbury Park focus on selling delicious, freshly prepared Mediterranean food with an emphasis on healthy dishes using high quality ingredients. Even the croissants are handmade, using traditional French techniques.
He said: “I’ve always been passionate about food – it’s all my wife and I talk about at home! But my love for food has grown exponentially since I trained professionally."
Boulangerie Bon Matin is one of over 120 independent businesses offering a discount to members of the Local Buyers Club. (Members save 10% Mon-Fri. More info here)
He added; “In the past, people tended to focus on one nationality of food, such as pure French or Italian, and only classical fine-dining was considered to be worth pursuing. Now there’s a growing trend towards fusion – I use a lot of flavours from France, Lebanon, Algeria and Italy in my cooking – and even some Japanese ingredients. I want to create great tasting and exciting food, inspired by different cultures. These are the flavours of my life story and London is the perfect place to experiment and enjoy, with inspiration around every corner.”
The 48-year-old sold his shares in another company in 2011 to set up BBM in Finsbury Park and recently invested his life-savings in the sister branch in Hampstead. He added: “I’ve received offers in the past from people who have wanted to invest in my concept, but I’m so passionate about quality and consistency that I wanted to keep a tight control over things. I think when a business is independent and run by people who have a passion for what they are doing, and not just the bottom line, it shows. The business has a heart and a soul.”
BBM employs around 20 people across the two sites and the businesses are already a focal point for community life. Dahmane added: “Hampstead is a tough area to run an independent café like this with big name chains competing for business. But as long as we stay true to the quality of our food and drink we’ll do fine. Our coffee is exceptional – we source it from independent roasters, Exmouth Coffee, who freshly roast it right here in London and our baristas are highly trained.”
Dahmane’s wife plays a big role in deciding what makes it onto BBM’s menu. She works as a doctor and is constantly pushing forward tasty but healthy options such as oat bran pancakes and Mediterranean eggs with yoghurt and avocado.
As for the future? Though he’s fearful about the impact Brexit will have on the cost of imported ingredients, he’s always on the lookout for a third location to branch out to.
Just some of the great independent businesses offering discounts to Local Buyers Club members
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