Welcome to the long-awaited website for Starter Bakery. We’re really excited to have this resource for our customers and fans; we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. We had a lot of fun making it.
A month from now, Starter Bakery will begin its third year of wholesale pastry delivery in the Bay Area. We’ve been delivering pastries daily since March 13, 2011. We’ve grown slowly, with intention. When production began, it was just me, with some friends and family helping; employees were added as deliveries increased. Many of the early hires came knocking on our door. We now have nearly 20 employees and have increased our production capacity significantly. It’s been exhilarating to grow a food business in such an exciting time and place for food culture.
Our real birthdate is a little bit older than that – Starter Bakery made its debut at the Pop Up General Store in Oakland in November 2010 with our featured product, the Kouign Amann. Until we appeared with it, the Kouign Amann was a relatively unknown pastry in the Bay Area, as well as in the United States. French pastry devotees and people who had spent time in Brittany and Paris were thrilled (Finally, an authentic version close to home!) and then speechless at the Pop Up.
We got involved in the Pop Up General Store sort of late in its run, but it was wild, and our brand was created and born around the Kouign Amann. In just 2 hours at the Pop Up, 300 Kouign Amann sold. Samples flew and there were endless descriptions of what a Kouign Amann is. It was there that I established our lines of fillings with Traditional, TCHO Chocolate and Seasonal Fruit. There was a hunger for this sweet and salty pastry, and I was and am so excited to get to fill that need.
My interest in Kouign Amann started in 2005 when I had one from an outpost of a French bakery in Manhattan. The flavor and texture stopped me in my tracks on 5th Avenue, and I knew I had to learn more about it. A few years later I was studying in Paris at the Pierre Hermes Atelier and it was part of the curriculum. It was a disaster during one of the first class sessions, and it was the one thing that threw the chef instructor off his game. During this class, the pastry had done exactly what I had seen in early tests: the sugar liquefied and the dough was shredding and was unusable. I was intrigued.
A few years later, the magazine Modern Baking asked me to write 3 articles for the next year and I knew the subject of at least one: Kouign Amann. I knew that if I had to write about it, I’d have to learn the process. I researched. I considered the process and its details. I came up with a unique formula. I did several tests and recorded all of the results and came up with a rudimentary method for making the pastry. I wrote the article and put it on the shelf and knew it would be part of my bakery when the time came.
What started in 1999 with the desire to have a bakery someday… What started with the desire to be able to make a somewhat obscure and technically challenging French pastry…
What started with the desire to be an active participant in the food world of the Bay Area…
…has turned into so much more than I ever could have imagined. I am humbled daily. Since before and after opening this bakery I’ve been so appreciative for all of the help and contributions and time people have given to this project. There are so many of you (you know who you are) and even though I try to be sure and say it daily to the people I work with… Thank you.