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So long, Parisian French Bread

Nancy Berry Aug 22, 2005 12:38 AM

Friday was the last day for the Parisian sourdough bread bakery in SF. The bakery had been producing bread for 149 years. Kansas-based Interstate Bakeries, the owner of Parisian, closed the bakery and discontinued the brand. No more red, white and blue Parisian bread bags in the grocery store or at the airport. Sad...

Oh, and by the way, they also closed the Hostess/Wonder Bread bakery off Potrero in SF on Friday. In total, about 650 people lost their jobs.

Here's a link to the SF Chronicle article in Saturday's paper:

Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

  1. g
    Gary Soup Aug 22, 2005 12:48 AM

    Amen to that. They'll be keeping company with Larraburu and Venetian in sourdough heaven, and long live Boudin's, tourist attraction though it may be.

    Link: http://eatingchinese.org

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup
      rworange Aug 22, 2005 01:03 AM

      Tadich's and Scoma's used Parisian brand sourdough. Wonder who they will switch to. The waiters on my recent visits to both places said Parisian supplied the bread.

      So, Gary. Who do you like better than Boudin?

      1. re: rworange
        Gary Soup Aug 22, 2005 02:18 AM

        I've always felt Boudin was better than Parisian for traditional San Francisco sourdough. Also better than Venetian, but Venetian was in the 'hood. I think Larraburu was the oly serious competitor. It was probably an Old Boy network that brought Parisian instead of Boudin or Larraburu to Tadich.

        Link: http://eatingchinese.org

        1. re: rworange
          skwid Dec 5, 2009 06:49 AM

          I thought Tadich uses Boudin for their sourdough.

          1. re: skwid
            wolfe Dec 5, 2009 07:18 AM

            That was then, 2005, this is now.

      2. pilinut Dec 4, 2009 10:54 PM

        Does anyone know what happened to Parisian's starter? Is anyone out there baking with it, or was it simply thrown away?

        6 Replies
        1. re: pilinut
          Robert Lauriston Dec 5, 2009 07:49 AM


          1. re: pilinut
            sugartoof Dec 5, 2009 10:40 AM

            One would think with all the discussion on this forum, someone in the bread making business would figure out they could make a killing if they just made an old fashion sourdough by using an old starter, and trying to duplicate the "Tadich bake".

            Do they just not care? Don't know better? Has the message not reached one of these artisan bakers yet?

            1. re: sugartoof
              Robert Lauriston Dec 5, 2009 10:45 AM

              The starter culture is readily available: http://www.sourdo.com/original_san_fran.htm

              Any bakery that wanted to make one could, and reportedly a few do:


              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                sugartoof Dec 5, 2009 12:09 PM

                yet another thread pining away for the sourdough of yesteryear that inspires suggestions such as .... acme.

                bordenave, sits with boudin as an old bakery not doing it the way they used to.
                i believe tartine gets the crust and texture right. if they wanted to make a sour they could nail it.

                any bakers out there? hello? you wanna call yourself a san franciscan?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Leadbelly Dec 5, 2009 04:05 PM

                  I've come across that sourdo.com website before, and perhaps I don't understand the science, but how could it be a San Francisco sourdough starter if it is being maintained in Idaho? It doesn't say that exactly, but the company is located in Idaho. I know several people who brought their starter with them when they moved, and they claimed it was never the same, taste-wise at least. I guess the company can guarantee it is the same organism, but perhaps it will be missing that certain San Francisco-ness. Anyway, it is so easy to create your own starter at home, why on earth would someone order it from Idaho?

                  1. re: Leadbelly
                    wolfe Dec 5, 2009 04:36 PM

                    I was pretty sure we've had this discussion before.

            2. operagirl Dec 29, 2009 10:34 AM

              I saw bags of Larraburu bread today at Lucky's supermarket in Mountain View, and the label says it is baked by Andre-Boudin Bakeries in San Francisco. Has anybody tried this new incarnation of Larrburu, and if so, is it any good?

              6 Replies
              1. re: operagirl
                Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2009 10:57 AM

                Is it in a paper bag or plastic?

                Interesting. Andre Boudin Bakeries Inc. = Boudin. I thought that brand was extinct.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  operagirl Dec 29, 2009 11:05 AM

                  I believe it was all in plastic bags. Selection included big steak rolls, batards, and rounds.

                  1. re: operagirl
                    Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2009 11:08 AM

                    Blech. Putting those loaves in a plastic bag ruins them, unless maybe you want to make garlic bread or toast.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      cakebaker Dec 29, 2009 12:35 PM

                      not only is it in plastic but it's the half baked stuff. truly disgusting... and sad that anyone would think that remotely qualifies as sourdough bread with no other point of reference.

                      1. re: cakebaker
                        operagirl Dec 29, 2009 12:51 PM

                        Yes, the steak rolls were the half-baked stuff, while the batards and rounds were baked to Boudin's normal darker brown hue.

                        1. re: operagirl
                          cakebaker Dec 30, 2009 03:26 PM

                          not that it matters but the Laraburu batards I saw at Lucky's were par baked loaves in plastic bags in paper sleeves.

              2. Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2009 11:11 AM

                As long as this topic has been bumped, I'll mention the peculiarity that the Interstate Baking truck that delivers Colombo-branded plastic-bag squishy pseudosourdough to supermarkets also has Parisian and Toscana bags painted on the side.

                1. d
                  DandySF Dec 29, 2009 08:13 PM

                  Just tonight, while having dinner at Rex in San Francisco, I was lamenting the passing of Parisian. It's criminal that a local institution like this could be shut down by the makers of Twinkies. I shudder to think what's become of the mother yeast.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DandySF
                    emerson7 Dec 31, 2009 07:55 AM

                    indeed, those at Interstate Bakeries that caused the shuddering of the plant have reserved a special place in hell for their treachery. ....and somehow....life is just a little bit less worth living.....

                  2. Robert Lauriston Dec 31, 2009 11:50 AM

                    You can't really blame Interstate, they came in way late in the game. I've been trying to piece together the history. Reports are conflicting and confusing, but it went something like this:

                    From 1945 to the late 70s, the Giraudo family bought up all the local bakeries and merged them into the San Francisco French Bread Co., retaining only the Boudin, Parisian, Colombo, and Toscana brands.

                    In 1990, SFFBC was purchased by a a Texas investment group.

                    In 1993, SFFBC and seven other companies were merged into Specialty Foods as part of a $1.1 billion leveraged buyout that left the company saddled with debt.

                    In 1997, as part of its eventually unsuccessful attempt to avoid bankruptcy, Specialty sold most of SFFBC's assets to Interstate. It retained Boudin, which somehow eventually ended up back in the hands of the Giraudos or their successors--who I believe had been operating the Boudin cafes all along.

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