How I Got Here: Apollonia Poilâne

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with baker and Poilâne CEO Apollonia Poilâne

Related tags: Baker, London, Restaurant

Apollonia Poilâne is a third-generation baker and CEO of Poilâne, which operates a handful of bakeries and restaurants across Paris and London.

Why restaurants?
It's my life. Poilâne feeds bodies with breads, biscuits and baker’s pastries. The café takes it a step further by catering to the moment and suggesting uses of our confections.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I am not sure because I have appreciated the journey and mistakes I have made, as much as my successes.

What do you do in your spare time?
I'm based in Paris and have recently started road cycling. I love seeing the outdoors and meeting incredible people on the road.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
While I don’t have a favourite, I appreciate the attention to detail and service beyond the plate in restaurants or groups that pay attention. The Fat Duck; Maisons de Bricourt; Paul Bocuse; and Alain Ducasse’s group are inspiring.

What motivates you?
Feeding bodies, minds and souls.

Where was your last holiday?
Bretagne. I have a soft spot for the Baie du Mont St Michel.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
A lady that worked at the Elysée Palace as the private chef of President Mitterrand. She once said to me that cooking is about pleasing clients, and making them happy.

What keeps you up at night?
Ideas; projects; books; good moments with friends.

Worst business decision?
Settling for uncomfortable compromises.

Best business decision?
Following my instinct about opening Comptoir Poilâne in London's Chelsea.

What are you reading at the moment?
Pour une revolution délicieuse​ by Olivier Roellinger

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Do things with intent and passion.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
The wording! Feeding people is too important to call it an industry.


The granddaughter of Pierre Poilâne, who founded the Poilâne bakery brand in the 1932, Apollonia Poilâne grew up working in her family's bakery on the Rue du Cherche-Midi in Paris. Her father, Lionel Poilâne, oversaw the business while she was young. However, following his death, Apollonia and her sister Athena took over the running of the family business. From 2003 to 2007, Apollonia presided over the company while studying economics in Boston. Organizing regular exchanges with her teams, phone calls, emails, video conferencing, and frequent trips between Boston and Paris enabled her to work full-time overseeing her managers. She has since returned to Paris, where she now oversees the day-to-day running of Poilâne as CEO. 

Related topics: People

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