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About The Unabaker

The Unabaker is a bit of tongue in cheek that references a time of professional and personal life change. In the midst of what most would consider a successful career, I found myself dwelling at a very small place at the end of a dead end street that was sometimes patrolled by bears, in the shadows of a mountain. I called it The Monk's Cottage, or when feeling grand, L'Ermitage. I spent a lot of solitary time there, and it was during this period, my "hut in the wilderness" era, that I began to think more seriously about Bread. 

I designed a very rudimentary formula calculator as a gift for my oldest son who I hoped to encourage an interest in Baking. He grew up working in my kitchens, was not a novice, but had other ideas. In any case, one thing led to another, and I've been reading, and studying, and developing various kitchen systems, primarily for use in my consulting business, but in doing so, teaching myself as well. By writing stories and articles I've found that being forced to do research, and to organize my thoughts about complex aspects of my profession and about Baking in order to instruct others is a splendid way to learn. Whatever teaching I might be accused of doing applies as much to me as to those who look to me as a mentor. 

Forty plus years of leadership experience at the helm of internationally renowned operations. I've designed restaurant operations from the ground up, and consulted to companies large and small in America, and internationally. I've had recipes, profiles and reviews in publications too numerous to mention, and have written and co-authored cookbooks. My work played a role in the development of New American Cuisine, and the rising awareness it fostered regarding cooking as a serious profession in America. Recognized by my peers for leadership and creativity, I'm the recipient of numerous awards, and mentor to dozens of young cooks. 

It's well past time to slow down, though hard to do having been in overdrive for decades. The sounds, and action, and the stress of kitchen life don't dissolve so readily after having been stamped into your daily life for that long. Some of what's ineradicable are the blessings that attend to hard work, done well, done together. It's always the people who worked alongside; cooks, servers,  and dishwashers, but also the many, many brilliant guests I've had the opportunity to meet. I don't forget this, but as with any performance, when honestly reflected upon, there are parts of it that I'm happily ok with, and other parts I wish I could undo. Those are the ones that reverberate still. A penance? "Out! Damn spot! A notable line. 

Staying busy is comfort enough, along with not forgetting the good. Working in my shop, tending my unruly cliffside gardens, riding my bike as hard as I can, learning new things, cooking and baking, reading and writing about cooking and baking; it's my day, every day. A bit of wine, good conversation, a visiting child or friend, and a whisky is comfort enough. 

This is what it means to be The Unabaker.

Despite his accomplishments, The Unabaker is not so far down the path of practical expertise as bread crafter. He 
makes very good bread, but realize they could be better. He's taught one son how to do it, and that child makes better breads than he. Be that as it may, he's also not starting from scratch. Experienced as a Baker and Pastry Chef, The Unabaker has implemented pastry and bake shop operations for large scale venues; supervised and orchestrated daily production as well. The Unabaker has competition experience, winning a few awards (which he considers to be beginner's luck). He can execute a wide range of classical pastry, local favorites, and his own creations. He makes a a stylish wedding cake. A long, long time ago, The Unabaker wrote an apprentice training guide for Bake Shop & Pastry that was used for a number of years at one famous establishment. The truth is that he has a little something to go on. He's had the good fortune to work with a handful of very talented Pastry Chefs along the way. Nevertheless, there's plenty left to learn about bread craft in particular. The Unabaker dreams of doing stages in the shops of his inspirations: MacGuire, Hamelman, Robertson, Forkish and Ginsberg. 

Inquisitive with a talent for critical thinking, and the ability to analyze complexities, Unabaker is also methodical. His personal goal is to increase his understanding of the Science of Baking, continue skill development, and to produce better bread of course, but also to share the adventure, and the knowledge gained from so many years working in the industry.

Forged from endless hours in the crucible of heat and clamor and stress of high profile kitchens, the Unabaker understands that persistence, the will to improve, dedication to learning, constant practice, and a clearly defined vision of success that includes hospitality, friendship and compassion are the essentials for camaraderie and mutually supportive learning. These are binding principles. 

Recently, at his cliffside redoubt he fashioned a modest workshop, a place to bake, and to study, to repair his bike, to build things he never knew he could, and to listen to the waves. Follow along as The Unabaker continues the journey, step by step.

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