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From diplomat to baker,
meet Jim Warlick

Jim Warlick

Trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, Jim is an American diplomat, former US ambassador to Bulgaria and now a baker. He has opened his own bakery, La Baguette, offering delicious breads, viennoiseries, macaroons and workshops. A little bit of France in the United States!

Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Jim Warlick from Washington, DC.  I spent my career as a US diplomat serving at American embassies around the world, including as Ambassador. I’ve always had a passion for cooking and baking, so when I left government service I decided to pursue training at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. It was with Chef Hoel that I discovered my love of boulangerie. 

How did you come to create La Baguette?

When I returned to the US, just for fun I opened a “pop-up” offering croissants, pains au chocolats, madeleines, and a variety of breads. It was an immediate success and my business - La Baguette - was born, located near Washington, D.C.. I showed up at farmers markets; I even started teaching classes and holding workshops. Sales at La Baguette reached over $1000 a day with my products often sold out in a matter of hours. It’s still a part-time business because I want baking to continue to be fun. Soon, I’ll be adding macarons to my growing list of items for sale and I know they will be a big success. 

Can you tell us more about La Baguette?
La Baguette is a "micro-bakery" and consequently there is no traditional store.  I bake from my home, and I use  approved and licensed kitchens as needed.  I can even come to you if I'm confident your equipment is up to the job. Still, my day looks like  that of any traditional baker, preparing large quantities of dough and up early to make sure that my products are as fresh as possible.
Nearly all my ingredients are organic and locally sourced. I even work with a nearby grain farmer in Virginia who keeps me supplied with spelt, barley, and this summer with Rouge de Bordeaux

How Le Cordon Bleu Paris helped you in your career?
Le Cordon Bleu Paris gave me the skills and confidence to start my business.  Not only do I rely every day on many of the recipes I learned as a student, I also strive to make everything I bake as beautiful as I can, and also delicious.  Striving for excellence is a part of the Cordon Bleu experience and everyday I try to bring that excellence to my work.

What links do you have with politics today?
I loved my work as a diplomat and I continue to stay active in international affairs, but like many careers it can be hard to measure success. As a baker, I get real pleasure when a customer takes a bite, smiles, and says “This is the best croissant I’ve eaten since Paris!” It's that feedback that is the best part of the job.

What is the thing you learned that you use today in your daily life?
I owe so much to Chef Hoel, who continues to advise me on recipes. What I learned from Chef really can’t be taught. It’s passion, and I like to think I bring passion to my baking and La Baguette. 

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