Interview with Cesare and Tomaso Baj
Over a century has gone by since the Baj Panettone was at its peak and now, several decades of oblivion later, two direct descendants of Giuseppe Baj, founder of the Baj Panettone, are unable to resist the attraction to bring it back to life. They are Cesare Baj, publisher, scientific toys designer and aviator and Tomaso Baj, his son, communication designer.
Browsing through the many mementos of the business of their ancestor Giuseppe, the beautiful brochures dating nearly a century and a half back, the robust boxes used for sending panettones by parcel post, the idyllic promotional pictures of Giuseppe and Teresa’s little rascals posing in the midst of a pile of panettones, conducted the two great-cousins by means of some “chromosomal power” towards a line of business in which they had never been directly involved. This is how they got the idea to restart production of a “21st century” version of the Baj Panettone, a combination of the value of a 250-year-old recipe with more modern production techniques.
Not having any practical knowledge of the sector, the Baj descendants appealed to the highest authorities on pastry production, people with tons of experience and real experts in managing the choice of ingredients, strict quality control and of course the continuity of the original recipe.
In the meantime, Cesare and Tomaso Baj are eager to leave their mark. First of all on brand communication, where their work experience in media comes in handy, but also on the basic philosophy of the product. “There is no doubt about its shape. The Baj Panettone must be “basso” (not cylindrical) and the ingredients must be of the highest quality, exactly like the natural components of the past”. In short, Giuseppe Baj should single out the 21st century Baj Panettone as an excellent 19th century panettone if he were to be participating in a “through the ages” blind test. In other words, it should possess the same values of the panettone that won many a prize and medal in various international fairs.
“Without doubt – Cesare and Tomaso continue – a panettone with these features belongs definitely and deliberately to the category of high-end brands. In any case, panettones are not basic consumer goods and are purchased only a few times per year. It would therefore be a shame to deny oneself and others the pleasure of eating such an exceptional product.”
Finally we ask the Bajs what has been their deepest motivation to transform some old souvenirs associated with an ancient family business into a modern brand. “Unquestionably, it’s the joy in honoring an ancestor we’ve never met, but to whom we feel closely connected, based on the admiration for his immense entrepreneurship.”
“Then of course there is also a sense of nostalgia for a wonderful period of our history, the last decades of the nineteenth century, characterized by incredible scientific and technological progress, a strong cosmopolitan frame of mind and by the explosion of the first avant-garde movement. It is fascinating to see the subtle link between the panettone and the “aeropoeta” Marinetti and the Futurism movement, a revolutionary artistic movement, to which I, being an aviatior feel a connection – Cesare Baj says. After all, in the early twentieth century, the sky was full of flying machines.”s
“Moreover, the idea of adding a bit of excellence to the many excellences Italy can pride itself with, both in the panettone business and in any other fields of taste, design and imagination, seems the right thing to do”
“Lastly, there is the great pleasure to belong, even as a small company, to the not established but existing Club of high-end panettone producers. Thanks to their outstanding products, these entrepreneurs, with or without our great-grandfather Giuseppe, managed to give Milan and the entire Italian industry a long-lasting international platform. Therefore, they deserve universal admiration and gratitude.
Why not end with a motto? “Thinking about our ancestor Giuseppe and hoping to honour his memory we can proudly say: Milan l’è on gran Milan ”.