I first met Jeff about five, maybe six years ago. I was eating oysters and drinking assyrtico at the counter of Liverpool House, when in comes this handsome man with a mischievous smile and a bag of warm bread. “ Who’s the dude?“ I asked Ryan who was busy popping another round of Lucky Limes. “ That’s Jeff, he makes bread for a few restaurants. Good stuff. “
I lean into the bag and catch a whiff of an earthy, comforting smell that I call “the smell of home”, that warm and reassuring feeling of being safe and sound, knowing a good meal was around the corner. “What’s that? I ask, pointing to the bag.” He breaks a grin, shoots back a scotch and says “Rye bread. Good ole Jewish-style rye bread.” He splits the restaurant, leaving that warm smell behind him. I tore a chunk off a loaf and tasted the first of many bites of Jeff’s amazing baked goods. The city definitely needs more of this bread I thought…
Jeff’s background is in fine-ding, having gone to school in NYC at the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Institute) where the likes of David Chang and Wylie Dufresne also schooled themselves. Internships and gigs took him to prestigious places like Toqué! In Montreal, Per Se in NYC and The French Laundry in Napa Valley. “I did a bit of everything,” he tells me, “butchering, gardening, you name it, as well as an overseas gig in London at the 2-Michelin starred Hibiscus working as a junior sous-chef.”
He got his whiff of pastry working for Oriol Balaguer, owner of a world-class chocolate and pastry joint in Barcelona. “Man, that was a great stint,” reminiscing about his time in Europe. “I went on to do an internship at El Bulli in 2009 working in pastry for over a year,” he continues. “That was at the beginning of a craze: the year-long wait to get a table. The restaurant was open for six months a year, and they would receive one million requests in one day. Insane!”
With such an incredible background and experience in high-end wining and dining, I asked him why he decided to open a bakery.