On a chilly, grey Monday morning in the district of the Mission in central San Francisco, the queue on Guerrero Str. outside Tartine Bakery & Cafè was impressive. The café was filled to the rafters, customers standing shoulder to shoulder maneuvering their lattes and croissants from hip to mouth Californian style. The queues outside of Tartine Bakery & Café have been constant since it opened in 2005 and has rightly become an icon. The master baker, Chad Robertson and his partner and pastry chef, Elisabeth Prueitt, produce breads & pastries of such high quality that they are usually sold out shortly after hitting the shelves. They have not only created an oasis on Guerrero St. but also inspired a generation of bakers all over the world. I was drawn into this complex, but zen-like universe some years ago when I discovered the book, Tartine Bread, which gave me the motivation to bake.
There is no doubt, that the Danish chef and entrepreneur, Claus Meyer has also been influenced by Chad Robertson. Today, a good handful of Copenhagen’s neighborhoods boast a Meyers Bageri producing hand-crafted breads and pastries using local organic ingredients. Meyers Bageri also engage and encourage their customers to bake themselves providing sourdough and baking courses. Many years ago, when studying at Denmark’s Design School and tired of what was being served at lunchtime, I would visit Copenhagen’s Business School where a young student was combining his studies by running the school´s canteen. A lanky lad wearing shorts and an apron was serving lunchtime meals that had the canteen packed. Claus Meyer´s projects have helped dramatically how we taste and enjoy food. Back in San Francisco, I left Guerrero St. and headed for The Mill down on Divisadero after hearing wonderful things about Josey Baker’s rustic breads based on local whole grains and wild yeast. Entering The Mill’s marvelous space, I was met by another queue, which thankfully quickly evaporated. Interestingly, The Mill is a collaboration between Josey Baker, the resident baker and Four Barrels Coffee and it works. I was advised to try their “hipster” toast with strawberry marmalade, toast as thick as thick can be, which transported me back to childhood visits of an aunt and her gorgeous thick toast laced with salty butter. Thanks to Chad, Claus and Josey.