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You mean outside of pie contests and bake-offs? I
remember once, in the early days of food TV, one network
televised the Coup du Monde of baking in Paris. It was like
watching Wimbledon or the French Open with amazing talent
that was totally inspiring. Unfortunately, that’s not what most
people are interested in watching.
Do you have a favorite ingredient(s)?
Lately, the combination of extra virgin olive oil, orange
blossom water, zest, and toasted fennel seed in the brioche we’re
making results in ancient and delicious flavors.
I’m really interested lately in working with different kinds
of cheeses in sweet applications.
Your first book Tartine received critical acclaim. Any plans
for a second book?
Turned in the manuscript today – Tartine Bread. But it’s not just
about bread. It’s being published by Chronicle Books, same
publisher of our first book.
You’ve branched out and opened a restaurant: Bar Tartine.
Not another bakery but a proper California cuisine restaurant.
Wow! How’d that come about?
We both started as savory cooks and still cook every day at home
and make family meals at the bakery. Since we run our bakery
like a restaurant, baking in real time practically to order, we didn’t
think it was much of a stretch to open a restaurant. Also, it
provides us a venue to make some of the food we can’t really
take the time or space to make at the bakery.
Also, we’re using our bread at the restaurant in many of the
ways we use it at home. The restaurant is right around the corner
and with our two-year-old daughter, we don’t have to cook every
How difficult is it for two hands-on professional chefs to own
a restaurant and leave the cooking to someone else?
As long as the chef shares our vision and wants to collaborate
with us we all win. More people working towards the same goals
can achieve a lot more than just the two of us. We’re constantly
inspired by the people we work with – but it does take work.
When it doesn’t work out, you adapt to a new situation and
move on. That can happen as well. It’s the challenge of running
any collaborative business, especially a restaurant.
Bakery in Focus
46 Pastry & Baking
North America
We both wanted to move out West. Chad had never visited,
but I had lived here long enough to see there was a really good
food scene with a lot of prominent female chefs. Once we moved
out here, we met oven builder Alan Scott and that kind of sealed
things for us. We knew we wanted him to build an oven for us
and quickly found a piece of property in Pt. Reyes that was zoned
commercial/residential where we could have our first business.
San Francisco is known as theAmerican epicenter for artisanal
baking. But instead of following in lockstep with the rest of
the bakeries in town, Tartine’s offering is different. How was
your bread first received?
Our bread was pretty well received from the start – Acme laid
the groundwork for crusty, well baked, well fermented breads –
so we didn’t have to explain what we were doing.
Technically, our bread is San Francisco sourdough – but we
strive to make a distinctive loaf. There’s a ton of excellent bread
in this town. It’s a great place to be a baker. People that live here
know how to eat bread and they eat a lot of it.
How do you approach sourcing your ingredients?
Much of what we use comes from people we’ve known for
a long time, people who are growing or milling for us.
Our miller is local, I see him a few times per month and
talk about flour.
That being said, it’s a luxury living where farmers grow great
produce and bring it to the market for us. Quality of the
ingredients, personal relationships, and sustainability at all levels
are equally important.
What do you think about Food TV? Any desire to become
“celebrity chefs”?
Depends which channel you are talking about. We watch
some of it. We know the San Francisco chefs on the shows and
it’s fun to watch your friends on TV. I see a lot of great cooking
on Iron Chef. Mostly, I’ll watch with the sound off while doing
other things. Watching Top Chef is a sort of healthy way for a
working chef to unwind.
Personally, I’ve no desire to be a ‘celebrity chef ’. Being known
for doing something well is what I strive for professionally.
Are you surprised there aren’t more pastry & baking pros
represented on TV?