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  • 07/12/2024 7:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Board Spotlight: Kobla Asamoah, Board Treasurer 

    Kobla Asamoah is not a baker by trade, but his expertise in business and finance is critical to the success of many bakeries and bakers, including those in the Guild. He has an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship from NYU’s Stern School of Business and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. By day, he is a Managing Partner at Caminus Ventures, helping underrepresented entrepreneurs in food and beverage to access capital and networks to grow their businesses. In his spare time, he serves as the Guild’s Board of Directors Treasurer.  

    We recently spoke with Kobla about his work supporting diversity in entrepreneurship and how that led him to the Guild.  

    It started when he met Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK) founder Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez; at the time, he was looking to start an incubator program in Brooklyn. The conversation turned into an interview, Kobla told the Guild, and he ended up joining HBK as Director of the impactful HBK Incubates. HBK asked Kobla to grow the incubator operations and see how the organization could serve more businesses. 

    “I was really interested in the idea of incubators as a shared resource that made it more possible to lower the barrier of entry,” Kobla said. “Because I was physically housed in a bakery…I was able to really understand the business of a bakery, the opportunities, the challenges of, particularly, bread, and the economics of it.” 

    The Guild’s Executive Director, Karen Bornarth, was also at HBK at that time and working on developing their Quality Jobs Initiative. She combined her baking and workforce background with Kobla’s background in business and entrepreneurship to formulate a distinct approach to assisting small bakery businesses and their teams. 

    “I could pull Karen as a real-life kind of specialist on operational efficiencies and topics like scaling a recipe…things that the food entrepreneur needs to do in order to grow their business, and we could strategize together around other initiatives, programs, classes, and things like that,” Kobla said. “We were really able to deploy that experience to help businesses and women in the program.” 

    When Karen left HBK after almost eight years for the Guild, Kobla said he knew he wanted to continue their work together. The Guild’s Bakery Leadership Circle is a continuation and expansion, in part, of that work.  

    “So many folks are great at baking...but don’t have the businesses administration to wrap around it,” Kobla said. “So, what if we were this resource that was able to provide support, make them stronger and help make their ventures sustainable?” 

    The Guild’s mission is expanding as bakers and businesses grow and change. Kobla says there’s an opportunity there to support even more bakers. The Bakery Leadership Circle does just that, but on a nationwide scale. 

    “Historically the focus may have been about nerd-ing out in baking, right?” Kobla said. “But it’s also about having these enterprises grow and be successful and be good employers...that’s the part I’m in it for.” 

    His work at Caminus Ventures is an extension of the work at Hot Bread Kitchen, “Just that now we are targeting businesses that are further along and have need for more substantial funding.” 

    “I’m migrating towards the capital side of things, and there are some interesting venture funds committed to equity within the lens of food and food business,” Kobla said. “They’re investing in innovative food concepts, food technologies in agriculture, and addressing the lack of diversity within entrepreneurship, particularly in the food space.” 

    Asked who his mentors are, Kobla points to Ethiopian-Swedish Chef and businessman Marcus Samuelsson

    “He’s showcasing the foods of the African diaspora, and that is commendable and exciting,” Kobla said. “He’s opened the way for a lot of other chefs to unapologetically focus on that genre of food.” 

    He also names the people behind Convive Brands, which owns New York's Little Beet, Le Pain Quotidien, and other restaurants.  

    When he thinks about his greatest influence that brought him to this intersection of baking and entrepreneurship, he thinks of his Aunt Victoria who started her own bakery in Ghana, West Africa.  

    “She and her husband grew that bakery to the point she ended up expanding into catering, and now has a dedicated restaurant that does much of the catering for University of Ghana,” Kobla said. “She didn’t have to go to Harvard to build this successful business. She also gave anyone who needed it a job to work. I think it was that model that made me excited about entrepreneurship and has become this force behind what I’m doing.” 

  • 05/30/2024 4:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Chef Alex Peña grew up to the sound of dough mixing in his family's Mexican bakery, La Morenita, in Los Angeles. We met Chef Alex at Camp Bread last month and spoke with the California native and former Marine about how he became a trained chef, professional bread scientist, and Master baker.   

    "My family had a bakery for 20 years in Los Angeles," Chef Alex told the Guild.     

    He eventually enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu, California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.   There he learned formal French technique, which he incorporated into his work.   

    "Eventually, I went on to work for the ingredient side of things at BakeMark."     

    He quickly became Bake Mark's Hispanic technician, traveling the world. Eventually, he moved into Research & Development.   

    "I developed some of the dry mixes you still see being used today to make Mexican breads," he said.     

    Today, Chef Alex, the Director of Product Development for Bellarise, helps many household-name bakeries keep their bakes consistent.    

    "I develop not only conditioners but different solutions for the baking industry," he said.     

    In 2020, he launched Baking Evolution, an at-home baking school focused on teaching the art and history of Mexican breads.  

    "Baking Evolution is designed to help polish professional bakers and cultivate new bakers throughout the industry," he said. "My main focus at this time is Mexican bread. So, I'm walking the students through the five different categories of Mexican bread, talking about its evolution and history. And of course, from my perspective as an artisan baker, the techniques."  

    In April, Chef Alex led a Guild class on the subject of Bizcocho and its history.    

    "Bizcocho is the direct descendant of French Brioche," he said. "Bizcocho is the dough used to make the iconic Concha, which means, "seashell," in Spanish.    

    Baking Evolution is aptly named for Chef Alex's life in bread. He's continued that journey for himself over the years and hopes to share his knowledge with others.    

    "I grew up in the artisan bakery where the sound of the mixer was my guide," he said. “Now, some 30 years later, it's still about development, but it's no longer just the sound. It's the actual windowpane, the dough temperature, etc."    

    When it comes to his work with the Guild, he is passionate about the opportunities the organization offers bakers across the country.   

    "I'm honored to be part of the education platform," he said. "Just last night, we had a gathering, and I met a gentleman from Ukraine living the dream thanks to the Guild.   We're cultivating that type of environment for the baking industry, which I think is phenomenal."    

    Learn more about Chef Alex and Baking Evolution below:    


  • 05/02/2024 5:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In Gila Bend, Arizona, where Oatman Flats Ranch is located, the average annual rainfall is less than 4 inches. During the summer, temperatures can easily reach 120 degrees, sometimes higher. Conserving water in one of the hottest places in the country is critical for farmer Yadi Wang, Oatman Flat Ranch's General Farm Manager. Yadi recently spoke with the Guild by phone from the fields at Oatman about his background in chemical engineering, and how that led him to farming.  

    Yadi is a native of China, who arrived in the United States in 2010 to initially play college basketball in California. He ended up getting a chemical engineering degree from the University of Arizona. Before 2015, Yadi says he'd never seen a farm. Then he visited his wife's family farm in Indiana, where her father, Chuck Whitehair, was a sixth-generation farmer.  

    "I was just mesmerized by the farming field," Yadi said. 

    Yadi returned to school to study soil and water science, watershed management at a doctoral program in Tucson, where he received his Ph.D., in Agriculture and Life Sciences. Then his father-in-law passed away in late 2016.  

    "I made a commitment to myself, after I finish my academic career, I will immerse myself in farming," Yadi said. 

    Oatman Flat Ranch owner Dax Hansen's family has owned the land for four generations now. By day, Hansen is a renowned FinTech lawyer. Yadi heard Hansen needed a farmer who knew how to manage water and wanted to explore regenerative agriculture.  

    "I said you will help me become a farmer, and I'll help you with the landscape," Yadi said.  

    That was almost four years ago. So far, Yadi and Oatman grow  heritage wheat, such as White Sonora, plants accustomed to heat and drought. According to Oatman, each pound of its wheat conserves an average of 700 gallons of water-gallons of water, compared to other commodity crops grown in the area.  

    "We have over 150 species we brought back to the land," Yadi said. "Taking the ecosystem approach, the life of the human is only one component." 

    Oatman grows heirloom wheat that require low water utility like Red Fife, White Sonora, and Blue Beard Durum. They also wild harvest Mesquite beans for flour.Yadi looked to the Indigenous community, whose history can be traced more than back 20,000 years ago, for guidance on how food was historically cultivated in the region. 

    Gila Bend is named after the approximately 90-degree angle in the Gila River, a tributary of the Colorado River. It's situated near an ancient Hohokam village. Not far from the town is the Tohono O'odham Nation's San Lucy district (in O'odham: Weco Ceksanĭ) with a small settlement, San Lucy, along the town. 

    "We have a saying here in Arizona: the people in the community didn't move; the border moved," Yadi said. "What we call regenerative, what we call sustainable, or even organic, is part of a tradition. It's an Indigenous culture." 

    He tells the Guild that much of what's considered to be traditional farming practices, are really rooted in the Industrial Revolution, which is relatively recent compared to long held Indigenous cultivation practices. 

    "What we are doing right now is nothing new," Yadi said. "It's not new, it's not innovation. Traditional agriculture is how ancestors have always been doing things." 

    Oatman skips pesticides and herbicides, opting for cover crops and minimal machinery. Soil is prepared with low to no-tillage practices. The result? Better water retention, better nutrients, and overall, better biodiversity for the region.  

    The ecosystem approach extends beyond the farm, too. Oatman is working to fill smaller orders for up-and-coming bakers, who might not have the ability to take on the larger minimum wholesale orders.  

    Oatman recently received LFPA funding to bag their flour for distribution by local nonprofits, to those in nearby underserved communities and school districts.  

    "If we don't focus on our kids in the future, then we have no hope," Yadi said.  

    In 2022, he co-founded the Development of Regenerative Yields Cooperative, or Dry Co-Op for short. The goal is to make a for-profit marketing association cooperative that can function as a blueprint for other local food economies to apply to their own regional community needs.  

    Dry Co-op is about creating a traceable local food system and finding ways to share resources to sustain it. He pointed to Vital Farms' use of QR codes for consumers to learn which producer supplied the eggs. 

    "Are we honoring our producers that do the hardest work at a local level?" Yadi said, "Traceability and transparency are about allowing people to know where those things come from." 

    Learn more about Yadi Wang and his work with Oatman Farms, Oatman Flat Ranch, the DRY Co-op below.  

    Website: https://www.oatmanflatsranch.com 

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oatmanfarms/ 

    Dry Co-Op: https://dry.coop/home.html 

    Kiss the Ground Short Documentary on Yadi Wang and Oatman:  

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URgdDWyv_ds 

  • 04/11/2024 2:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Barrio Bread founder Don Guerra was raised in the Phoenix area and says he grew up baking with his mother. The 2022 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Baker award-winner spoke to the Guild recently about starting Barrio Bread out of his garage in 2009. Barrio Bread is named for the community where Guerra lived in Tucson, Barrio Del Este. 

    "When I started my garage bakery, it was truly a community bakery," Guerra said. "That name embodies what I'm trying to achieve as a baker and bakery owner, I want to take care of my community." 

    In the 1990s, Guerra opened the Village Baker in Flagstaff, Arizona, and a second location in Ashland, Oregon. He was living in Ashland when he decided to sell the company and return to Tuscon, to attend the University of Arizona for the second time (first time he studied Anthropology).  

    "I wasn't prepared to manage that large of a staff and that big of a company," Guerra said. "I went back to school to study education because I thought that would prepare me for bakery ownership in the future." 

    After years working in education, he returned to baking again in 2009. When he did, he put the lessons of education into practice at his bakery. 

    "My bakery is about recruiting and retaining staff," Guerra said. "How do I do that? I need to draw on the lessons and training I received from the College of Education." 

    Asked who his mentors or bakery heroes are, Guerra named Dan Leader, of Bread Alone. Back in the 1990s, Guerra says he wrote Leader a letter, bought a plane ticket, and showed up at the backdoor of Leader's bakery one day hoping to learn.  

    "He answered the door,and I smelled the wood fire and bread baking, and he let me in," Guerra said. "He is a legend for what he's done for bread in America." 

    He also names Steve Sullivan at Acme Bread, Joe Ortiz (The Village Baker,) and Mike Zakowski at the Bejkr, as significant influences on his baking. 

    After years of baking and owning bakeries, he said he's found the most success comes from connecting with his local community. 

    "You can have a really awesome product, but if you're not engaging your community, if you don't have transparency, if you don't value them, you will have surplus product at the end of the day," Guerra said.  

    Barrio Bread opened its latest iteration inside the Hayden Flour Mills kitchen in Gilbert, Arizona. Guerra is enjoying the Gilbert setup, which was designed to mirror his garage bakery where Barrio all began. It also allows him another venue to interface and connect with his neighbors. 

    "More consumers are demanding to know where their ingredients are coming from, and they want to know who the producers are," Guerra said. "When they get an opportunity to shake hands with a producer, it's such a win. They feel connected to what you are doing. They're part of your success. They feel that." 

    Learn more about Don and Barrio Bread below.

    Locations: Barrio Bread, 18 S. Eastbourne Ave., Tucson, Arizona 85716 

    Barrio Bread at Hayden Flour Mills, 932 N. Colorado St., Gilbert, Arizona 85233 

    Website:https://www.barriobread.com/ 

    Instagram:@barriobread 

    Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/barrio.bread/

  • 02/09/2024 9:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rise Bakery owner Julian Loue never expected to turn his baking hobby into a full-blown bakery. But that's precisely what happened between 2020 and 2022when Loue turned his cottage bakery into a beloved brick-and-mortar shop in Greenville, South Carolina. Initially, Loue began learning how to bake after his daughter was born.  


    "I was an avid cyclist, and I needed a hobby I could do at home," Loue recently told the Guild. "So, I started baking bread." 

    After the pandemic hit, people started asking Loue for bread more often. So, he built a micro-bakery in his garage and worked a full-time insurance career while Rise Bakery grew.  

    While waiting for his ROFCO to arrive, Loue said he baked over 800 loaves of bread from his home oven. Between bakes, he started teaching himself lamination.  

    "When you're baking two loaves at a time and you've got 40 minutes between them, what else am I gonna do?" Loue said. "I might as well learn how to laminate croissants." 

    With the ROFCO, Loue could bake 12 loaves at a time, which was a game changer for Rise. 


    After months of long lines at his Travelers Rest farmers market booth, Loue opened his 1,400 square-foot Rise Bakery storefront in March of 2022. Located in the Village of West Greenville, known as the arts district, Rise continues Loue's passion for artisan and naturally leavened bread and European pastries. The bakes are made with locally sourced ingredients from the surrounding Greenville area. 

    "Pastries bring people in the door," Loue said. "The bread keeps them coming back." 

    Today, Rise Bakery boasts over a dozen employees and 25 wholesale accounts and continues to grow.  

    Loue recently started selling his custom bannetons (you can purchase them here).The bannetons he typically purchased suddenly went permanently out of stock last year. Soon, Loue found a manufacturer and ordered 1,000 custom bannetons designed to be more durable.

    "It's an actual flax linen liner that's removable so it can be washed or replaced," Loue said.  

    Asked who his bakery heroes are, Loue says Jennifer Lapidus of Carolina Ground, Kevin Scollo of Athens, Georgia's Independent Baking Co., and Miami's Zak the Baker.  

    These days Loue isn't baking 800 loaves of bread out of his home anymore and often finds himself troubleshooting a broken oven, which happened on a recent Saturday.  

    "I had an oven go down and was working on it all day," Loue said. "I'm like beating my head against the wall, trying to figure out what's wrong with it and who walks in the door, but Jennifer Lapidus and Scott Unfried, her husband." 

    Fixing the oven would have to wait until after lunch, Loue decided, and he asked Lapidus and Unfried to join him for a rare meal together.  

    If you're passing through Greenville, visit Loue and his crew at Rise Bakery for some of the best artisan breads and pastries. Follow their baking journey online below.  

    Location: Rise Bakery, 1264 Pendleton St. 
    Greenville, South Carolina 29611 

    Website: https://www.risebakerysc.com/ 

    Rise Bakery Shop: https://www.risebakerysc.com/s/shop 

    Instagram: @risebakerysc 

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/risebakerysc/ 

    Banneton site: https://risebakingsystems.square.site/  

  • 12/12/2023 4:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At Heart Panaderia owner Teresa Finney opened her bakery in Decatur, Georgia, in the summer of 2021. At the pandemic's start, only months before, she had lost her grocery store merchandising job. Finney, who’s a recipe writer and a panadera (baker), had dreams of creating modern takes on traditional Mexican pan dulce.  

    “I knew I had to do something with my time, of which I had an abundance,” Finney recently told the Guild. “Recalling my earlier life as a part-time baker, I started making Conchas to cope with the pandemic grief and my engulfing sense of homesickness for the Bay Area, California.” 

    Soon, some chef friends encouraged Finney to offer her Conchas at their pop-up. When they sold out immediately, Finney says her world “burst forward with opportunity and hope during a very dark, challenging time.” 

    Since then, she's expanded her menu to include a broader range of pandulce and celebratory layer cakes decorated with locally grown, organic flowers and fruits. 

    Asked who her bakery heroes are, Finney says that the now long-gone Wilson’s Jewel Bakery in Santa Clara, where she grew up, made a lasting impression on her life. Locally, she loves Little Tart Bakery in Atlanta, not far from her own shop. She calls it "the epitome of a fantastic neighborhood bakery." 

    Asked who her bakery heroes are, Finney says that the now long-gone Wilson’s Jewel Bakery in Santa Clara, where she grew up, made a lasting impression on her life. Locally, she loves Little Tart Bakery in Atlanta, not far from her own shop. She calls it "the epitome of a fantastic neighborhood bakery." 

    As a cottage bakery doing big things on a small scale, Osono Bread is someone she looks to. And nationally, Finney tells the Guild she'sa big fan of Gusto Bread and "their pan dulce using local-to-California grains." 

    When it comes to the Guild's impact on Finney as a baker, she says "having the Guild as a resource to learn more about bread-baking and running a successful business is invaluable to me." 

    Find Finney and her beautiful Conchas and cakes online below.  

    IG: @at_heartpanaderia; Twitter: @atheartpanadera;

    Website: https://atheartpanaderia.com/;

    Recipe Substack: https://atheartpanaderia.substack.com/ 

  • 10/25/2023 7:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Location: 

    Saint Bread, Portage Bay, Seattle, WA 


    Owners: 

    Saint Bread is co-owned by Randi Rachlow and Yasuaki Saito, who met working at the now-shuttered London Plane in Seattle. They formed a lifelong bond over their love of salty French butter, cardamom everything, and sharing delicious food with their community.  

    About the owners:  

    Yasuaki is the Midwestern second son of a German-Alsatian mother and northern Japanese father. An industry professional who has worked at Nopa & Nopalito in San Francisco, and Stumptown & Ava Gene’s in Portland. Eventually, he and his wife Renee moved to Seattle where he took on the London Plane as Operating Partner with Katherine Anderson. 

    Executive VP of Pastry & Angel Randi hails from the fine New England town of Mapleville, Rhode Island. Her two decades as a pastry pro include stints at Canlis & the London Plane, as well as starting her own farmers market-based bakery, and managing production at Molly Moon’s Ice Cream.  

    Backstory:  

    Opened on April 20, 2021, Saint Bread is a bakery and community space on the Portage Bay waterfront near the University of Washington. 

    “Our name comes from the Danish words for true bread –sandt brod—and our playful interpretation nods to Plane Bread, and our belief in tending to something is a sacred act.” 

     Before it was a bakery, 1421 Boat Street was owned by the Jensen family of boatbuilders and housed the Jensen Motorboat Company (over 100 years ago!).  


    Bakery idols:  

    Proof Bakery in LA is turning out great production while running on a co-op ownership mode, which is so great to see. Randi says she’s partial to her favorite hometown bakery, Seven Stars Bakery, in Providence, RI. “I dream about those ginger scones,” she says.  

    Saint Bread, 1421 NE Boat St., Portage Bay, Seattle Washington 

    Saintbread.com
    @saintbread 

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