Bakers Journal

Europain: Day 1

March 6, 2010
By Brian Hartz

March 6, 2010, PARIS – First, the weather report: It's cold. REALLY cold. When I stopped for a crepe and "vin chaud" (hot wine) this evening after touring Notre Dame cathedral, the vendor said I'd brought the cold weather with me from Canada. I told him it wasn't nearly this cold in Toronto. Seriously, my hopes of seeing Paris in springtime have pretty much been destroyed.

The first day at Europain was a rough one for this American in Paris. Bear with me while I run through the problems (briefly, for your sake): I charged my battery the night before but I was so jet-lagged I forgot to put it back in the camera; thus, no photos to post to the blog or Facebook today. Then I took the wrong train to the Paris-Nord Villepinte convention centre, and had to backtrack. After losing about an hour waiting for trains, I finally arrived at the show. It was at this point that I realized my camera had no battery.

I walked the show for about three hours, trying to at least get an overview of this massive bakery, confectionery and chocolate event. The size, scope and content of its four exhibition halls are truly jaw-dropping. I can't go into detail right now or this will turn into history's longest blog post. But I did manage to have a nice chat with the folks at RONDO, who have one of the show's most impressive equipment displays. Dave Kollar, who oversees the New Jersy- and Toronto-based company's eastern U.S. sales, had just flown into Paris this morning and seemed to be in great spirits. "I'm really excited to meet both new and existing customers," he told me. "Europain is such a great opportunity to see live demos and get a close-up look at bakery machinery, and create some real excitement about our company."

For me, the day ended the same way it had begun: unfortunately. As I was heading to the press lounge to gather my belongings, I ducked into the bathroom – and got locked inside. After banging on the door in vain, trying to communicate my distress in English (my French is poor, to say the least; I must learn how to say, "Help, I'm an idiot."), I scribbled a note and slid it under the door, hoping someone would find it and call security.

But all's well that ends well. In this case, a matronly maintenance worker finally cracked the jammed lock and swung open the door. Smiling sheepishly, I stood there while she berated me (I think it was a berating) in French. C'est la vie.

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