BEIJING - When 25-year-old Frenchman Brice Elhaik came to Beijing to study art two years ago, learning the art of bakery management wasn't what he had in mind.
But his craving for a taste of home - especially French bread - led him to open the bakery Amandine in Sanlitun SOHO on Oct 19.
"Bread to the French is like rice is to the Chinese," Elhaik says.
"I love bread, and I need French bread. Some French bakeries have been here for years, but the menus never change. That's not French bread, which changes all the time."
Amandine, which takes its namesake from a type of French cake, offers about 150 types of treats, including pastries, chocolates and coffees. Three experienced French chefs man the counters and sell the goodies.
The bread and cakes sold in Amandine are baked in a 1,200-square-meter factory in Beijing's Shunyi district.
Initially, running a French bakery in China seemed "all Greek" to Elhaik.
The equipment and ingredients are imported mostly from France. The flour, butter and Dammann tea come from his homeland. The Domori chocolate and Illy coffee are from Italy. And the juice is made with fruits from Beijing.
"I came here to give the best, so that customers can savor real French desserts," he says.
He says the bakery's chef knows how to make more than 1,000 kinds of desserts and has plans for introducing more.
His personal favorite is a mousse cake, topped with special spices and passion fruit coulis.
"Our staff will tell customers what's in the cakes," Elhaik says.
"It's important because everything is new to them. They get to know what they are eating and will like it more when they know."
New cakes will be introduced every Wednesday in November.
Elhaik plans to hire and train - and also learn from - Chinese chefs, because he wants to share the fare from his homeland with the inhabitants of his host country, he says.
"I plan to open another branch in Beijing soon," he says.
"It's not interesting to open only one shop. I want to do it as big and as great as it can be."