c/o Richemont Centre of Excellence
Thank you, Mr. Fries, for taking the time to answer our questions during these difficult times and to tell us about the Richemont Expertise Centre. We are aware that the technical school was closed in the spring due to the Covid-19 and that it only reopened since June. Perhaps for this reason now is a good timing to talk about the technical college and its future now!
How has the Richemont College developed over the past few years?
Reto Fries: The Richemont Technical School has always been committed to maintaining and promoting the craft. The national and international competence centre has been imparting expertise and experience to the entire bakery, pastry, and confectionery sector since 1945. The diverse services include, among other things, comprehensive training and further education, individual seminars for companies and groups, sales training on site, the book and teaching material publisher, a wide range of advice and research and development
Due to the changed eating habits, increasing mobility and digitalization, the needs of our customers, as well as the end consumers, have completely changed. Of course, this also means for the Richemont technical school that one should pay the appropriate attention to this development and adapt the knowledge transfer to the changes.
What does this mean for the school?
Reto Fries: This means that due to the digitalization of print media there is significantly less demand, as an enormous variety is available to everyone any time on the Internet. But it also means that the end consumer also has access to this data, is much better informed than it was years ago and is therefore a lot more demanding. In addition, global trends such as health, sustainability, ecology, transparency, and safety play an important role in how the procurement of raw materials, the range and the production methods in the companies have changed or will be changed. This, in turn, makes the topics for further education more complex, as the industrialization of certain traditional production methods has faded into the background and new components have been added at the same time.
There are fewer and fewer theoretical demonstration courses being held, which are replaced by active practical workshops through to individual training at the customer's site. This of course changes the demands on the infrastructure or the demands on the teachers. We have been able to gain a lot of experience in these areas over the last few years and thus further develop the team and the infrastructure accordingly.
The end consumer is much better informed than it was years ago and is therefore a lot more demanding.Reto Fries
In the past, bread did not always have a good reputation, what is Richemont doing to counter these statements?
Reto Fries: The same ingredients have always been required for good bread: flour, water, baker's yeast / sourdough, salt, and time. Time is essential.
If you do not give a dough enough time to rest, it literally comes at the cost of good taste. When the dough is resting, the fibre it contains swells and certain sugars are broken down. This makes for an excellent bread aroma.
In addition to the taste, long dough rest periods also significantly improve the freshness and digestibility of the bread in a natural way. This is because the microorganisms in the dough break down the starch better and it binds less water. The bread crumb, the soft, inner part of the bread, stays moist longer. For people who have digestive problems after eating bread, bread with a long dough rest can be the solution. The long fermentation also breaks down substances that cause discomfort in irritable bowel patients.
Breads left to rest for at least four hours are therefore more digestible, more durable, more aromatic and prevent food waste.
Does this mean that the Richemont Technical College has dealt more and more with research topics in recent years?
Reto Fries: That's right, Richemont benefits from a large network with important know-how, such as about sourdough.
Belgium has the world's only sourdough library. Puratos has brought together more than 100 copies from 20 countries here. The now 20-year-old sourdough called "Helvetia" from Richemont can also be found here: Sourdough cultural asset.
In 2019 we organized the 1st International Sourdough Congress in Lucerne together with the various countries of the Richemont Club. Various scientists from around the world have talked and exchanged ideas about sourdough and its importance, benefits, and health benefits. Through this active role, Richemont is making a significant contribution to the further development of the bakery, pastry, and confectionery industry, among others.
Richemont works closely with various national and international companies and associations both in Switzerland and abroad from the industry and thus benefits from a large network with important know-how.Reto Fries
Are you currently planning any further research projects at Richemont?
Reto Fries: Yes, Richemont will take the lead in an international research project for the next 2 years, which will deal with a wide variety of grains and shoot management methods with and without sourdough. This is the logical continuation of the first findings of the 1st International Sourdough Congress in May 2019 in Lucerne.
The manufacturing methods are based heavily on the current practice methods in the industry or are recommendations of the Richemont Technical School. With the different types of grain, we check the influence of the raw materials and, through the different sourdough components in the recipes, the effect of the sourdough. Ultimately, we want to find out which process and / or raw material can be used to influence the health value specifically and positively. Renowned scientists will accompany us in evaluating the results and help us to draw the right conclusions from them.
Through the knowledge gained, we will not only deepen the enjoyment but also the health value of bread in all courses, advice and publications and make it accessible to the industry. The first series of tests has just arrived in the laboratory and will be analysed over the next few weeks. We are looking forward to the first results that we expect in autumn!
What role do the various national Richemont clubs play and how does the cooperation with the schoolwork?
Reto Fries: Although a lot is dealt with digitally today, the personal exchange with the various club countries is still extremely valuable and enriching. For this reason, an international meeting takes place at least once a year in a club country. In times of Covid-19 this was unfortunately not possible.
It also helps us to expand and disseminate knowledge transfer on an international level. Not all countries have such a practice-oriented dual education system as Switzerland. Another important goal is to increase the image of the craftsmanship in our industry through cooperation and active exchange with the individual countries. With financial and active support, the 13 club countries make it possible to continue research on such important research topics as I mentioned before.
I am delighted to see how the number of members has grown in the individual countries over the past few years or how other clubs have been founded in new countries, such as Peru and Serbia in 2019, Mexico and Portugal in 2020.
Reto Fries has been director of the Richemont SBC Foundation and AG since September 2010. The Richemont Foundation includes the complete training and further education, the catering and hotel sector as well as the laboratory and quality assurance for raw materials – with a focus on grain. Richemont Dienstleistungs AG consists of self-publishing with books, teaching materials, the Richemont trade journal, brochures, software, and a comprehensive advisory service. We interviewed Mr. Fries in July 2020.