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Musette Bakery: Interview

September 5, 2012 | By | One Comment

One of the best things about being out here is being able to connect with people that at one time or the other we could only communicate with via the interweb. When it comes to food proof really is in the pudding so there’s only so far instagram can go.

Musette Bakery are one such outfits. These guys were one of the first to welcome my move and I wanted to share with you what they are all about. Check them here! Be sure to Click Read More to see the whole interview…

- It’s the cliché but who are you and what do you do!
We are Musette Bakery, a brother (Christian) and sister (Erika) team with a shared love of baking and sports, and we make delicious baked treats that don’t only taste great, but have the nutrition necessary to power an elite athlete.

- Why the cycling market?
Pure and simple: because we love cycling.  We’ve raced for over 7 years and have even organized a few of our own races, but we simply love being on bikes and when we aren’t on bikes we think about them and the food we will eat on them while riding.  We approached this market because it’s something that we wanted for ourselves, and we started by baking our own goodies for races and rides.  When other people began to ask for them or gave us ideas for that they would like to eat, we knew it was time to share them with the larger community!

- Do you think Brooklyn or New York has been an influence to you in any way?
Christian: Of course!  Brooklyn and New York are hubs for foodies and, other than being cycling fiends, we are big time foodies.  Half the time I spend on the bike I’m thinking about where I want to have dinner!  New York does that to you.  There are so many places to eat, and so many good rides as well.  Whether heading over the GWB toward Nyack or racing at Floyd Bennett Field, there is delicious food all along the way.  And now, with Musette, you can literally have it with you all along the way as well.

Erika: Aside from my dislike of the term “foodie”, I’m completely with Christian on this one!  Brooklyn, and New York as a whole, has inspired me and my appetite since I was a child, eating L&B pizza and spumoni with my parents and siblings.  I don’t think we’d be the food lovers that we are, or love what we do, if we didn’t have New York as our backdrop.  Though, my four years spent living in London has informed some of our more European items: I can’t get by without financiers and Liege waffles in my life now, and that’s why you can find them on Musette’s menu.

- Ok so I’ll delve straight in there, how do you feel about the fact that athlete’s perspective on food can turn to just ‘fuel’?
Erika: We have thought long and hard about this, and have spoken with a lot of racers (including our favorite, Peter Horn, from Boulder, CO), but it very much depends which athletes you are talking about.  Beginners tend not to have gotten into the mode of thinking about food as fuel, and so want something tasty to take along.  On the other hand there are some people who are putting in enough miles that they simply want to make sure to get enough calories (whether a PB&J sandwich or a roll of Oreos) to keep going.  But, after that hump there is another group of riders.  These are the riders who have been going for years, who understand that they need to eat enough calories, but they are just so over eating any more protein bars or the same old sandwiches at this point.  These people are the ones who make sure to take the time to get good food along the way because they realize that there is a difference between good calories and bad.  They realize, after so many hours in the saddle, that powering your body isn’t just giving it fuel, but the right fuel, and if you are going to eat 4 times on a ride, you might as well eat something you enjoy.  And now I’ll leave the scientific facts to my brother, the doctor.

 Christian: I can’t stress this enough.  If you look at some of the things that Levi Leipheimer has said or the tweets of riders like Fabian Cancellara or Jens Voigt, you’ll see how excited they get about good food and pastries in their musette bags on long stage races.  Good tasting, home made food has a great effect on the body and mind.  A professor of mine, Michael Gershon, who specialized in the nervous system of the gut, told me about a book he wrote called “The Second Brain” and how basically, as humans, we are designed to do 2 things: procreate and eat.  We have more neurons in our GI tract than the rest of the peripheral nervous system and more serotonin (a neurotransmitter whose lowered levels are associated with depression and other mood disorders) than anywhere else in our body.  So it’s no wonder that when we eat something great, we feel good – and in terms of sports, we perform better.

- Are your products Jersey pocket friendly or a post/ pre ride munch?
Our products are meant to be enjoyed anywhere.  We had in mind jersey pockets when we designed them and the packaging, but we hear more and more about people who love to have them on picnics or give them to their kids as great tasting, but lower sugar snacks.  So we say, take them on a ride, but feel free to crack them open and enjoy them whenever and wherever you are.

- Do you guys counter this sense of enjoyment versus efficiency if so how.
- Do you think there is a place for nutritionally enhanced or concentrated nutrition such as tabs, jelly’s etc.
Well, we aren’t trying to make something for the sole purpose of powering an athlete to the finish of a local evening race or even an Ironman (which we have), or of making 1 tablespoon of gooey calories to prevent a bonk on the road.  We don’t even want to necessarily replace those things, because any serious rider knows that there is a time and a place for all of these items.  Anyone who has bonked, who has felt that awful total body weakness of lost glycogen stores, knows how necessary a high fructose syrup may be.  We aren’t going to replace that for many people (although it might be a good idea for your body’s overall well-being not to ingest them).  What we want to do, though, is give guys and gals the calories they need to do an Ironman or prevent a bonk in the form of an all natural, non-processed, tasty baked good, should they so desire it in addition to, or instead of, more traditional nutritional supplements.

 - What do you think of the sports nutrition market place in general (personally I find it bamboozling and intimidating both in terms of packaging, branding and ingredients) do you think it’s important to know and recognize what you’re eating?|
Christian: This is the crux of the issue for us, and Erika is even more adamant about it than I.  We love, LOVE competing and riding, and we love, LOVE food. We follow the ideologies of some great chefs who think, like we do, that food should be simple and tasty.  We understand that at the higher and higher levels of competition (read Tour de France level), specifically balanced nutrition bars and gels may be important (although much of the research on this is spotty at best), but for the vast majority of people (ourselves included), we get all the nutrients we need from all of the rest of the food we eat, and our ride nutrition needs to include only good, complex carbohydrates that offer a quick and sustained energy release.

Erika: Yes, I am adamant that everyone owes themselves the sheer joy of real food!  I take great pleasure in knowing where what I eat has come from, and in making it myself.  I truly believe that if I’m going to get out there and do the hard work of running or riding, I should reward myself with something that tastes good and makes me happy.  And baked goods have always done that for me.  I’ve had a love affair with sugar and butter for the better part of my life, and what I love most about Musette is that I can take that love affair and turn it into something with a little less sugar and butter, a little more whole wheats and grains, so that I can carry it with me even when I exercise or want a mid-day snack.

- How do you counter people who suggest simplicity such as plain old Water and Bananas are a naive approach (Graeme Obree is an advocate for such a diet in his latest training manual)
Christian: We agree that simplicity is key.  I don’t know many people that would argue against eating bananas and water for exercise and, in terms of proven studies, there is no evidence that we need electrolyte replenishment when exercising hard for less than 2 hours.  We love Graeme Obree (at least what we learned of him in the Flying Scotsman, because we love Pippin (errr, Billy Boyd) from Lord of the Rings) and I think all the evidence says that most people would be fine with a simple diet that is easy on the digestive system. There is only one problem – the difference between NEED and WANT.  While we may only NEED simple water to replace losses while exercising, there are numerous studies that show that we are better able to hydrate our bodies when there is sugar and salt (like electrolytes) in what we drink.  The evidence for this comes from years of emergency department research on rehydrating patients with a plethora of problems maintaining hydration status, and the far and away best way to hydrate anyone is with an electrolyte drink.  So, while we may not NEED it… it IS better than simple water for hydration, and some people like the taste to refresh their mouth while riding.  And this is a similar case for solid food while riding.  Honestly, we have glycogen stores through the roof and can survive for a long time without food, and if we do NEED food, a simple banana would be fine.  However, not everyone has room for five bananas in their jersey and some people (i.e. me and Erika) would rather bite into a delicious pastry when they have calories to spare.  We love eating (it’s in our Italian genes) and so when we need to eat, we want it to be something that was made with love and tastes great.  I don’t particularly buy into the idea of eating for the sole purpose of replenishing calories – it’s so much more than that.

Erika: It’s true, we really love Billy Boyd.  And Lord of the Rings.  In fact, a recent trip to New Zealand inspired our anzac biscuit, The Dean.  And I’d much rather eat a Dean than a banana when I’ve just returned from a grueling run.  To each their own!

-Anything in the Oven for the future.
Well, you may have heard about The Bradley, our new United Kingdom-inspired fig and buckwheat scone, which we just released a few weeks ago.  We were working on that for months, perfecting the recipe so that it really did supply all the taste, moisture and aesthetic of a delicious morning scone while using ingredients we are really excited by, like buckwheat flour and fresh figs.  And then we were SO happy that Bradley Wiggins worked as hard as he did in the Tour de France, and gave us the bit of impetus we needed to complete the recipe (yes, we like to compare our kitchen sessions with stages of the Tour de France).  We’ve debuted The Bradley at various food markets, and will be offering it online soon as well.

- Do you guys get involved in events etc.? Anything coming up.
Yes, the most fun we have had recently has been at events!  First, we like to compete and second, it’s great to see people excited for a race and looking for a new way to feed themselves calories, which is when they come talk to us. We are working a twilight criterium series in upstate New York on Tuesday nights, and will also be at the upcoming New Jersey Gran Fondo (http://granfondonj.com/), where we’ll have itmes for the racers during the ride, as well as a booth at the finish line expo.  We are also attempting to set up a few events of our own, and while we won’’t be a sponsor, we’ll be bringing Musette goodies to the Olympics and Paralypmics in London… so yeah… the Olympics.

- How can someone get hold of some goodies!?
It’s very easy.  1) check your local bike shop and see if they are cool enough to be carrying Musette goodies.  If not, tell them they should contact us or 2) go to musettebakery.com and place an online order and we will ship it out to you ASAP.  And 3) accept thanks from the both of us for your order!

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