What happens when three friends with more than 50 years of baking experience decide to head out on their own? The answer is found at Magnol French Baking in Spring Branch. Now open at 1500 North Post Oak Rd. #160, the wholesale and retail shop offers a selection of classic baguettes, boules, and pain de mies, all prepared with carefully-sourced organic flours.
Launched by Otto Sanchez , who was the pastry chef at the Alden Hotel's *17 restaurant and his co-owners and friends Matt Cabon and Tina Blanco, Magnol brings together their collective experience under one roof. Sanchez left Houston in 2005 to learn more about baking. He worked for Michelin-starred chefs Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, as well as for the Hotel Bardessono in Yountville, Caliornia; The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay; and Burj Al Arab in Dubai, where he was the assistant pastry chef. Most recently, he headed up La Table's pastry program as executive pastry chef.
Opening Magnol is what Sanchez calls a dream come true, and he's been impressed with how Houston's dining scene changed since he left the city nearly 15 years ago.
"The city's cuisine became more sophisticated and elevated while I was away, and my partners and I are finally here and ready to make our contribution to the industry and to Houston," he said in a press release announcing the shop's opening. "The best equipment, the best bakers, and the best ingredients – this is what my fellow chefs want, and what Houstonians want. Organic flour is what we want for our families, and since it is better for our planet, there was no question that this is what we wanted to use.”
Cabon will take on Magnol's head baker role, Originally from Brittany, France, he studied for four years in bakeries in his home country, later working in Brittany, as well as for Robuchon's Michelin-starred La Vegas restaurants, where he and Otto met and became friends. He has led bread programs in Santa Rosa, California, and served as chef-baker for Jerome Bocuse's outlets in the French Pavilion at EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Blanco, a Houston native, worked at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Omni Houston Hotel, The River Oaks Country Club, Hotel ZaZa, and Rainbow Lodge. She also launched or ran pastry operations at the Wit in Chicago, and The Cosmopolitan, Scarpetta, and The Wynn in Las Vegas.
Magnol offers wholesale delivery available twice daily, Monday through Saturday, while the store front is open for walk-in business Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.