Bread is on the Rise in the Hudson Valley | Culinary Events | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Bread is on the Rise in the Hudson Valley 

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A Knead for Bread

It was at a farmers' market that Simone Williams first saw the need for handmade bread. She was looking for a way to teach her three-year-old son about farms and where food comes from, when she hit upon the idea of setting up at farmers' markets and selling cheeses from many of the Valley's small-batch cheesemakers who were too busy and short-staffed to attend the markets themselves. As she went from market to market with her son, she sampled the bread being sold. She was not impressed.

"I thought, 'Geez, this bread is terrible," Williams recalls. "There's got to be better bread out there that I can sell instead of this."

Her search led her to the breads of Highland's David Meltzer, which she began selling alongside her selection of cheeses. When Meltzer told her that he was closing up his Highland shop, she saw an opportunity. "I told him, 'We need to partner up because I can't let you go out of business. Your bread is too good'."

click to enlarge ROY GUMPEL
  • Roy Gumpel

They rented a space at the old high school in Beacon, managed to squeeze a commercial oven through the door ("We had about that much room on either side," she recalls, holding her fingers a whisker's width apart), and All You Knead was born. Meltzer did all the baking, Williams handled all the business. They were successful enough that they soon opened a storefront on Beacon's Main Street. Then one day Meltzer told Williams he was moving on. She had little prior baking experience. So for two weeks, she watched him bake. She watched his hands. She watched him do everything. "The last thing he said before he left was, 'Call me if you need anything,'" she says. "And I never did. Three years later, we're still here. I would not accept going out of business."

If anything, All You Knead's breads are even better than they were when the shop first opened. The small storefront quickly sells out their daily batches of baguettes, sourdough loaves, and hearth breads, much to the disappointment of those who come late in the day. On a recent afternoon, an elderly woman stopping by the bakery was crestfallen to learn that the bakery did not currently have any of its gorgonzola pecan bread. Williams suggested that she try the jalapeno cheddar bread instead. "Well, eventually," she said to Williams, leaning in for emphasis, "what I would like to do is try them all."

Better Late Than Never

"I think we're getting there," says Tarah Gay of Kingston's Outdated Café about the Hudson Valley's flourishing bakery scene. When they first opened two years ago, Gay was surprised how hard it was to find bread that lived up to her standards. "We couldn't find anything that looked or tasted like it was made by hand, and it made a really big difference when we found one that was," she says. "We make everything else here ourselves by hand, so why use bread that wasn't?"

click to enlarge ROY GUMPEL
  • Roy Gumpel

The bread they discovered was from Bonfiglio & Bread in Hudson. Like All You Knead, Bonfiglio & Bread was founded when Rachel Sanzone and Gabriele Gulielmetti realized that there was a lack of quality bread in their town. Although they had no professional training, they soon began baking bread and selling it out of their apartment every day at noon. When people began lining up at their apartment at 11:45 am, they realized they might be on to something. They now run a successful café and bakery on Hudson's main thoroughfare, Warren Street, and sell their breads, bialys, and croissants throughout the region.

While Gay mainly attributes Bonfiglio & Bread's success to the quality of its product, she also thinks that more and more people in the Hudson Valley are finally ready to pay a little bit more for real bread. "Where I grew up in Burlington, Vermont, handmade bread was a common thing," she says. "It's all we had. And I think now New York's finally headed that way."

And no one agrees with that sentiment more than Daniel Leader himself, who once hoped his bakery's success would spur local amatuer and professional bakers alike to follow his lead and take breadmaking into their own patient and well-floured hands.

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