Zak Stern is an enigmatic man. He wears suspenders, raises baby Alpine goats, and bakes organic sourdough bread -- Miami's best sourdough bread, to be exact.
He also enjoys listening to Taylor Swift, but more on that later.
In February 2012, Zak the Baker installed an oven in his Hialeah garage and began baking artisanal loaves. When Short Order sat down with him in September, his bread was available in acclaimed restaurants such as Michy's and marketplaces such as the Daily Bread and Perricone's. On Sundays, he was also at the Pinecrest Farmers' Market. At Pinecrest, his loaves still sell out within minutes.
He has garnered quite the reputation. Stern not only bakes the best bread in the city but also finds time to raise goats and mentor apprentices from across the world.
"The bakery is bursting at its seams. Since February, we've quadrupled our production; run through six apprentices from Italy, Israel, Africa, and the United States; and watched our baby Alpine goats become pregnant mothers -- all while operating on a shoestring budget. It's been a wild ride," Stern says.
The baker plans to expand his offerings soon. He is working on a line of fresh sandwiches, which will be tailored around his daily baking schedule. There are also plans to open a storefront. "The demand is strong, no question, but the supply is still very limited. We can't really blossom as a bakery until we get our own space," he says. "It's now time for the bakery to open the curtains and share the entire experience with the community. The bread-baking process is too rich to hide in a warehouse in Hialeah. It's a daily exhibition that should be displayed like art. Something needs to happen -- and soon!"
Stern remains vague about the location of his future storefront, but he speaks freely about it being a "village bakery."
"I would love to go right next door to Panther Coffee to help build an artisan food renaissance in Wynwood, but I must say the prices are a bit intimidating for a local bread baker."
His vision includes an open kitchen, where customers will be able to watch bakers in action and also interact. He hopes to launch the storefront by year's end.
Until then, watch Matt Degreff's second video about Stern. (The first video can be seen here.) In this take, Degreff follows Stern around for a day of baking, cooking, and PBR-drinking.
Be sure to watch the last few seconds. Turns out Miami's best sourdough is baked to the tune of "We Are Never Getting Back Together."
Only T. Swift could inspire such great bread.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.
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