There was a time in Miami when artisanal bread didn't quite exist. However, in the past few years, the Magic City has embraced culinary wonders such as Zak the Baker, True Loaf, and Madruga Bakery. Now there's a new baker in town.
James Beard Award-winning baker, chef, and author Jim Lahey has opened an outpost of New York's Sullivan Street Bakery near Little Haiti. His partner Steven Perricone, owner of the long-standing Perricone's Marketplace & Café and an admirer of Lahey's breads, thought there was a void in the local market and five years ago began planning to open the Miami location.
"Jim and I have a vision to elevate the culture and quality of bread in South Florida," Perricone says. "Sullivan Street’s style and approach is certainly unique to our region. I was confident it would be a hit." Lahey is known for his no-knead method of mixing dough, which gives it an extraordinary and memorable taste.
According to Lahey, the idea for Sullivan Street, which opened in New York in 1994, started when he held multiple jobs, one of which was baking. Three or four times a week, he would bake at home as a way to relax. Lahey says he was tired of working for others. So one day while baking, he thought to himself, I could do this for the rest of my life, and that's exactly what he's doing.
He has wanted to open a bakery in Miami for a while. "I loved spending time in Miami and always enjoyed Florida," Lahey says. "It feels really nice to be in a city that's vibrant and diverse with an outstanding hospitality scene." When he isn't working during his monthly trips to Miami, he's dining at 27 Restaurant, getting takeout from Cake Thai, or eating at Michael’s Genuine.
Sullivan Street's 12,000-square-foot Miami space, which Perricone purchased a year ago, is not an average production facility. It's filled with top-of-the-line equipment imported from various parts of the world, such as Australia and France. It also boasts a very serious air-conditioning unit, which is vital to the bread-making process because Miami's high humidity can ruin the dough. Unlike Zak the Baker, Sullivan Street uses no refrigeration. "Everything is done live. We are mixing dough at room temperature, and we do all the processing and bench work, including shaping the bread, by hand," Lahey says.
Head baker Matthieu Bettant uses Lahey's no-knead method, and from beginning to end, the process takes about seven hours. Previously, he worked with Zak the Baker's Zak Stern. Bettant is a native of France, where all of his family members were bakers. He says he grew up eating bread with practically every meal.
The bakery prepares 500 to 800 loaves a day, but Lahey is confident production will increase to the thousands. In New York, he has developed nearly 30 kinds of bread. "The plan is to include the whole lineup of 30 different varieties and work our way up," Lahey says.
As of now, there are seven varieties produced at the Miami outpost. A bake shop is also slated to open within the next year, and in addition to offering bread, the bakery will also sell sandwiches, salads, pastries, and pizza.
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For those looking to get their hands on Sullivan Street's bread, the market at Perricone's Marketplace & Café sells the stirato (long, baguette-shaped loaf) and sesamo (oval loaf coated with unhulled sesame seeds). Sesamo dipped in olive oil also happens to be Perricone's favorite bread pairing.
Lahey takes quality control very seriously and believes in consistent, slow, and measured growth. The bread has been incredibly well received. It's served at 27 Restaurant, MC Kitchen, Four Seasons, Le Zoo, River Oyster Bar, Joey's, Rail 71 Café, and Café Roval, and the list continues to grow.
Sullivan Street Bakery's bread is available for purchase at Perricone's Marketplace & Café, 15 SE Tenth St., Miami; 305-374-9449; perricones.com.