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Breaking Bread with the Miller, Baker & Chef

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Breaking Bread with the Miller, Baker & Chef
Photo by Jennifer Hitchcock
“This is an exciting time for bread in America — we’re transforming the way we approach artisan bread.”

Lionel Vatinet, master baker, French native, and owner of La Farm Bakery in Cary, NC

Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta hosted a dinner to celebrate Lionel Vatinet’s book, A Passion for Bread:  Lessons from a Master Baker, and the farmer/miller/baker relationship that has Vatinet so excited.

Chef Linton Hopkins crafted a beautiful menu with bread pairings for each of the five courses. He waxed poetic, saying, “Bread is an ancient word, a magic word. Bread itself is fundamental to a human, agrarian society. And I want it to be seen for how special it is, not as an afterthought.”

In attendance was Jennifer Lapidus, general manager of Carolina Ground, a mill that was born out of the grant-funded North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project. A tangible, working component of the mission to build a more sustainable food system in the Carolinas, Carolina Ground is narrowing the gap (both in physical distance and communication) between the farmer, miller and baker by buying from local farmers, stone grinding and cold milling their wheat into flour, and providing it to area bakers like Vatinet. Her nutrient-rich, flavorful product was used in all the bread at this event.

As dinner commenced, a table of gorgeous golden loaves, with dusted patterns and monograms, was wheeled out. The chef began to slice the bread as the baker suggested a tasting ritual:

“Use your 5 senses to eat and enjoy bread. Hold it up to your ear to hear it sing; it softly crackles. Admire its warm, golden color.  Slice it and deeply breathe in the aroma.  Admire the crumb — the shiny holes, color, texture — and look to see if the air pockets are the correct size for the type of bread. Then, I shut my eyes and allow the aroma to embrace me. Then, and only then, do I taste.”

Finally, Lionel instructs: “While tasting the bread, we pause and have a moment to think about the farmers and milling team who enable use to do our jobs as bakers.”