the sport crazy baker

Eric Bonnet, organic baker in Camélas, whose famous “Eric’s bread” can be found on the market, takes life only intensely. To the point where sleeping is nothing more than anecdotal. Story of a journey at a hundred miles per hour.

You have to find this little road, past Thuir, that leads to an old barn of camels converted into a bakery. How from this place? Eric Bonnet has he been able to develop an activity that is now indispensable in the world of organic bread with natural leaven? It’s simple, he never stopped working. Bathed in competitive sports, this temperament is certainly no stranger. His whole family was athletic. His grandmother was even forbidden to become a gym teacher, because it was considered inappropriate for a woman at the time. Eric grew up in the Paris region where his father was a department store manager. Very early on he took part in sports and swimming, tennis and even… the trampoline, where he was in the French Championship! † When I was twenty, I got a shock. I thought to myself five more times that age and you die, so I wanted to take advantage. The trampoline saved my life twice, including a ten meter climb where I was able to land on my feet Eric Bonnet is totally into everything he does. Even in altruism he goes to extremes.” At 25, I take a bum home for three years to try and get him out of there. While serving in the military in Tahiti, he discovered windsurfing and diving, where he became an instructor. He will also practice acrobatic skiing or high flying, and when he launches himself on 30m high jumps in the Hérault, the local bosses who are proud to dive from the 15m bridge can’t believe seeing him climb where no one went . Hungry for thrills, he practices paragliding before all certainties are settled. † It was a generation in which we started. With friends we even attached two windsurf sails to a car to try and fly behind them! A busy life? This is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The trampoline saved my life”

At the same time Eric obtained a Sup de Co diploma and became a sales representative for a confectionery group, which distributed, among other things, Créma candies and Hollywood chewing gum. † People thought I was weird because in the car I always had diving tanks, paragliders. So they sent me south. ‘If the group is bought by Philip Morris’ It was the business race for market share. It was the right time to leave, the work lacked meaning, I didn’t see how useful I was. Travel a lot to sell chewing gum… “. It was when he met his wife, the manager of an organic store, that he visited an organic bakery and found his calling.” It was clear. Finally something that made sense. At the moment, industrial bread is legion, hot spots are flourishing. Eric is trained in baking and decides to go against the grain, without questioning profitability, while organic is not yet trendy. † The chemical went too far. Bread is a product that has become saltier, with more yeast to go faster. While the natural sourdough makes it possible to have more absorbable minerals. Looking for a place to settle with his wife, he finds this old cellar in Camélas with a very small room as makeshift accommodation. † There was 12 m2 of bakery and 12 m2 of living space. “He lives with two in 12 m2 and soon with four since his first two children, twins, were born. His first customers are his diving students. Organic flour, coming from Lozère, costs three times more than conventional. Processing the natural sourdough takes longer, and making yourself known takes insane energy.

Eric Bonnet © P. Becker

Natural sourdough bread to regain meaning and taste

The sports side made me want things we shouldn’t. I sometimes worked 30 hours in a row, I worked 140 hours a week. As with climbing, we tell ourselves we can climb another meter. Orders are increasing, we always get there. In the end I made ten servings, that is, twenty hours of work, plus ten hours to make the bread. I was open day and night. I was asked for new breads, new recipes, I never say no. I passed for a strange man in Camélas. the bakeriesrs were closing in the villages, all supermarkets settled in Thuir and I arrive in the countryside. He eventually wears himself out. † I had constant headaches, I thought I was going to die of exhaustion. It was then that the tragedy happened. Her third child dies in a childbirth accident after 18 months, for the twins who were four years old. † I was destroyed. But the harder it is, the more I cling, I had a family to feed.

“I sometimes worked for thirty hours in a row”

Eric Bonnet then has two daughters. He studied theology and learned guitar at the age of 35, until he was gifted enough to play in prayer groups and masses. † After five years I was hired, but not soon enough. There was a bit of pride, I was convinced to go it alone. He now heads a dozen salesmen who roam the department’s markets. This moment in the middle of the interview may be the clue to Eric’s mood. A customer walks into the bakery and mentions a gingerbread from his childhood. Immediately Eric Bonnet makes sure that he will try to recreate the recipe. Always ready to experiment. † In the morning the sellers come to get the bread for the markets and we start kneading until 3 pm. We bake at midnight. Eric Bonnet passes on his sporty and unstoppable character to his children. We no longer present the twins Jonathan and Jeremy Bonnet, now interns in medicine – visceral surgery and nephrology – after winning European and world titles in French boxing. † They followed the sport. Everything I did, they did. They played rugby, wanted to become international in rugby. Kids, they challenged each other, we found them on the roof. At the age of four they started a car. At the age of 13, they were driving lap times all the time. They weren’t trying to beat the others, but the brother. They were never tired. I was scared when they won the schoolcross. The whole school put them under pressure and bet on them. They won everything because they didn’t want to disappoint. The requirement is also present for studies. † We looked at the day’s classes, then we went to boxing class and on the way back we did a class beforehand so they were comfortable for the next class. They are knowledge guzzlers, they were always top of the class. The girls are not left out. Nelly becomes French champion of rhythmic gymnastics and Sarah also practices many sports intensively. As for Eric, he hasn’t given up on the sport. † For my 50th birthday, my kids offered me a free fall. At 60 I continue to enjoy and make jumps to find the sensations. » A force of nature that we will want to use all the more often because the bread is delicious.