Dominique Geulin is doing things right
Master Baker knighted into prestigious Order of Agricultural Merit
Its often what you do when you think nobody is watching when you are just going about your daily life that you make the greatest impact. That has proved to be the case for Master Baker Dominique Geulin, founder and president of Saint Honore Bakery. Geulin was recently recognized as Chevalier dans lOrdre du Merite Agricole a Knight in the Order of Agricultural Merit. This is a highly prestigious honor bestowed by the French Republic for outstanding contributions to agriculture.
For more than a bakers dozen years, Portland area residents have relied on St. Honore to produce top quality traditional French breads and palate-pleasing pastries every day. Weve gone sweet on the foods but also enjoy a spoonful of French culture with our treats.
Which do we like more? Chouquettes, the puffy balls of made of påte á choux and sprinkled with rock sugar, or the mini raspberry croissants? Reply in French and then take a slice of the fresh fruit tart, too, si vous sil vous plaît.
How Guelin shares the culture and foods with the community is what inspired Linda Witt to nominate him for the Order five years ago. Witt at the time was the executive director of Alliance Française de Portland, an organization that promotes French culture through language and cultural events. Unbeknownst to Geulin she completed the application and then persevered through the arduous verification process.
She even got my kids involved without my knowing about it, Geulin said. It was a surprise when I learned I had won the award.
This Order of Merit was established in 1883, to recognize distinguished service in the area of agriculture, under which culinary arts lie. Contemporary winners in this Order of Merit include Jacques Pépin, Kermit Lynch and Caroline, Princess of Hanover.
In recognition for his exemplary engagement and services in the domain of agriculture, Geulin was honored at a special ceremony at the Multnomah Athletic Club May 25. Honored guests included his parents, Hubert and Genevieve Geulin, son Matthiew Geulin and friends from France, as well as Jack A. Cowan, Honorary Consul of France in Seattle and Françoise Aylmer, Honorary Consul of France in Portland.
Geulin learned the secrets to traditional bread baking from his father at his bakery in the coastal Normandy town of Etretat. After high school he enrolled in the Baking School at the Institut National de la Boulangerie Pâtisserie, the national baking and pastry institute, better known as INBP. There he was noticed and invited to move to Portland in the early 1980s to help open La Panier, an authentic French bakery in Old Town. He said he developed an appreciation for the Pacific Northwest lifestyle but returned to France and the family bakery after five years. During this time he also consulted to specialty French bakeries around the world from Africa to Asia. He continues to work closely with some of the most prestigious French bakeries in Japan.
He completed technical training at the American Institute of Baking in Kansas and after graduating while waiting for a work permit to return to Portland, he entered Frances most prestigious competition Meilleur Ouvrier de France, to honor the countrys best artisan craftspeople and promote Frances long tradition of knowledge and artistry. Geulin received the award of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in the boulangerie category from late President Françoise Mitterand in 1990, at the age of 27. He returned to Portland the following year and opened St. Honore Boulangerie in December 2003.
His oldest son, Thomas, has just completed the baking school at INBP. Younger son Matthiew, a student Montana State University, is visiting him this summer. Will Thomas join his father at St. Honore?
Who knows? Geulin says. My parents let me free to make my decisions, Ill do the same. I could have taken over their bakery but I came to Portland.
The Knighthood isnt the only award Geulin has receive this year. Earlier in the spring he received a Leadership Award at the second annual French-American Business Awards Pacific Northwest held in Seattle.
Though Geulin is greatly pleased with being named to the Order, he is not basking in the glory. Its back to baking for him.
We are getting our fruit supplied by Kiyokawa Family Orchards in Hood River to make cherry clafoutis, he said. The Cherry Clafoutis is originally from the Limousin region of France. This flan-like, rich custard-based dessert is naturally gluten-free. Stop by and try a slice today.
The original flagship St. Honore Bakery is located at 2335 N.W. Thurman St. in Portland. The second location is in Lake Oswego at 315 First St. and the third location is located at 3333 S.E. Division St. in Portland. A fourth location, planned to open before the holiday season, will be located in the historic Morgan Building at the corner of Washington and Broadway in downtown Portland.
Learn more online at sainthonorebakery.com.