On the Line: Davion Tran and Nathan Vuong of Paderia Bakehouse

I had the pleasure of dropping by the newly opened Paderia Bakehouse right before their grand opening. Chunky cookies, savory pudding and ube malasadas have converted me back into someone who craves dessert. Thanks to Nathan Vuong and Davion Tran (Go Cal Poly Pomona alumni!), you can find a little more sweetness in Fountain Valley.

How did the name of your bakery come about?
Nathan Vuong: Paderia [puh-dairy-ah] is an individually crafted name from the Spanish word “panaderia”: a place where bread is sold. A name that is modern with a Spanish flair which resonates well/compliments our offerings and captures the essence of the familiar. It’s the perfect name for our modern bakery that serves traditional pastries with recipes curated from around the world.

How did you meet your business partner?
Davion Tran: We’ve known each other since junior high (I actually hated him back then), and hung around in the same circle throughout high school. Lost touch moving on to college and reconnected several years after graduation, and became really good friends.

What is your favorite Paderia pastry?
DT: Definitely the chocolate chip cookie because it took me three months of development and tweaks to create what we have now. I’ve been eating it for the past two years, and am still not tired of it. It’s almost like an addiction; a good one, that is.

NV: I hope I can choose two? Though the malasadas are top sellers, I personally love the chocolate walnut cookies and the ensaymada. The chocolate walnut cookie is just an all-around great product with fine imported chocolates that stay melted after baking. And the ensaymadas with the two-year aged Vermont cheese is such a perfect blend of sweet and savory.

What is the shelf life of your items?
NV: It varies by items. Everything keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and has that same fresh-from-the-oven taste after reheating. I’ve frozen the ensaymada for a couple of weeks and heated it up when I was ready for a treat, and it was just splendid.

How did you decide on opening a bakery?
DT: Originally, when we decided to go into business together, we were going to create a gourmet meal prep company that would’ve tied into my fitness training. Along the way, I started to immerse myself more and more into the food scene, especially desserts, and saw an open opportunity in the marketplace. Once I explained to Nathan the dessert concept I had, and that it was way more exciting than a meal prep company, he was on board and we just ran with it.

Tell me about your executive baker.
Our executive pastry chef/consultant, Ariston Rodriguez, who helped us develop our products is beyond talented. Aris has lent his experience to companies such as: Starbucks Coffee Company (La Boulange), Sunset Marquis, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Clifton’s and currently, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel where he is the Executive Pastry Chef for the entire park. He is an all-around energetic and great person to work with who has a deep passion for baking.

Our in-house head pastry chef is Natalie Galvan. She has the formal training, experience and, most importantly, the passion for baking. She is such a warm soul that is hardworking, dedicated and precise. When we met her, we immediately trusted Natalie to be able to lead our team of bakers with enthusiasm, and to be able to carry out the recipes we spent an immense amount of time on during R&D with precison. Our assistant head baker, Ngoc Tran, who also has years of experience and training under her belt, works harmoniously with Natalie to help us manage production, problem solve and create new products.

Toughest thing about opening a storefront.
DT: The toughest part about opening a storefront is the amount of patience it requires and managing the stress levels that come with it. No matter how much you plan for, there will always be curve balls thrown your way. This bakery was two years in the making.

Tell me the about the ingredients used in your pastries.
DT: Paderia is always about quality. We spend a lot of time sourcing flours, butters, imported chocolate and aged cheeses that develop the best flavors for our products.

What’s the secret to authentic tasting malasadas?
NV: We wouldn’t be special if we revealed everything! The overall secret is using quality ingredients with the right techniques and temperatures at all stages of production, proofing and frying. Being authentic means bringing it back to basics and focusing on quality and consistency. We want our products to look and taste simple and bring back nostalgia. Authentic baked goods appear effortless and graceful, but complex in its DNA, which sets it apart from the herd.

What is the story behind choosing those particular products?
My business partner and I are epicurious travelers; we love to explore new countries and food. Our suitcases double because we’re always trying to bring these items for friends and family to share. Not everyone has the opportunity or time to travel, and we wanted our friends and family to have access to these unique specialties. That desire became the idea to Paderia, creating a bakery with a multi-cultural flair for those in the community that have traveled or have yet to travel. The challenge was that if we were to bring these traditional staples from around the world into one place, we have to be able to do it very well, as it puts you up against a certain standard. Carefully selecting these products into one bakery theme was also a challenge. It required a certain brand and appeal.

Best tip for the home baker:
Bake using a scale for precision and consistency. If you measure out a cup of flour multiple times, you’ll likely end up with a four to seven ounce variance. Weighing out ingredients is also faster and easier and it solves the question I always had when I measured flour or brown sugar, ” Did I pack too much and it’s now more than a cup, or is it not packed enough so I need more than a cup?”

Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
I used to dance hip hop back in my early college days, or I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

What did you originally go to school for, and how have you been able to apply your degree to your current work environment?
I graduated with a Business Management degree, but pursued the entrepreneurial route in the fitness industry instead. Started my own company, C3 Fitness, when I was 21, and that’s been my career the past 8.5. years. Having built a successful business, I’m able to apply my knowledge and experiences that I gained from that into the building Paderia.

NV: I went to college for a sociology/administrative studies degree with a focus on nonprofit management. I spent the majority of my career developing programs/services and managing products for the community. Though owning a bakery was never in the scope of the academic coursework, it was absolutely beneficial. I am able to apply various skills of analyzing and assessing the needs of the community, understanding market opportunities through qualitative and quantitative measures, having a grasp in public relations and utilizing the tools to help me focus on a transformational style of leadership.

Favorite places to eat (besides Paderia).
In-N-Out, Tacos El Gordo, Brodard’s, Capital Noodle Bar.

I want to know more about the fitness training company.
I started my fitness training company after having gone through a four month transformation myself. As I was going through the journey, the emotional, mental and physical changes that I was experiencing inspired me to want to share the same experiences with others. Decided to make a career trajectory, got my personal training certification, and took the leap of faith into starting my own business with no experience in anything at all. That’s how C3 Fitness was born, and C3 stands for: courage, compassion, commitment. It’s a mantra that I apply to most  things in life: have courage to take a leap of faith to pursue your goals. Have compassion for yourself when things get tough. Have commitment to keep moving forward no matter what. With these core principles, I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with over 1,000 people. Through fitness, I was able to discover my true passion, which is simply helping others in any way possible.

Last thing you looked up online.
Bakery equipment.

NV: Oh, just nothing (clears browsing history). I was actually looking up a Portuguese pastry I was enamored with when I was in Hong Kong— possibly a new menu item!

How would you spend a day off?
: Spending time with family and friends. Catching up on sleep.

NV: It’s different now, having a bakery that’s a brand new startup. I only get one day off (but usually working on administrative components of the company). I cherish my free time a lot more. I stopped doing things that just simply entertain or distract. I spend my day off reaching out to my friends and family to show them I’m still alive and love them, reading up on my interests, cooking, trying new things, and always working on myself to put my best foot forward every day.

Hardest lesson you’ve learned.
Find more balance in life before something gives out. Something that seems almost impossible, but I finally realized that the direction I was going could only be sustained for so long. Work hard, but also make sure to get adequate rest, nourishment and time away from work.

NV: Plan, but don’t over plan. I used to plan my life by the hour, and would follow the alerts in my calendar like a programmed robot. It’s nice to be organized, but it pushes you to focus too much on living your life in a specific way. And when things didn’t go according to the ding on the calendar, this robot went in circles and the circuits fried. Especially with business, as you can prepare and plan down to the most minute details; However, expect that things change and evolve. Leave room for creativity.

Paderia Bakehouse is located at 18279 Brookhurst St, Ste 1; Fountain Valley, (949) 478-5273; www.paderiabakehouse.com.

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