Why are you a baker?
I'm a baker because I love everything about the work. The physicality, the hours, the daily challenge of getting everything to work out right… And above all I love bakers. We spend so much time at work, and enjoying the company of your coworkers and colleagues is my key to happiness. I am reminded of the generosity of this community at every turn, and that's pretty much the best thing ever.
Who do you consider to be a hero or role model, and why?
I love bakers. And the bakers I love the most are those who never stop learning and questioning and trying different things; and who know they will never be The Master. I'm lucky to know so many people who exhibit these characteristics.
How did you get your start in baking?
I started baking after realizing life at a desk and a computer selling and marketing was not for me. Post-college, I did the work-every-job-you-could-get-to-pay-the-rent thing, and I worked at a furniture store, a wholesale bakery, and a software shop. The software job eventually won out, but then it got to the point where I needed and wanted to get serious about my work, and baking was the choice for me.
What sets your baking style apart from other bakers?
I strive to follow the tenets of those I admire — respect the process, work with real and true ingredients, have a strong work ethic, maintain a healthy work environment for everyone. I'm not exactly cutting edge, and I'm not sure if what I do is vastly different from other artisan bakers.
What drove you to try out for BBG Team USA?
I tried out for the team because I believe in accepting challenges — it's not always easy and I can't honestly say I accept them all, but it's something I try for — and going out for the team was one of those big ones. I knew the process was going to teach me so much more than I could ever hope to figure out on my own. Another big reason is I have learned so much over the years from everyone in the BBGA, and I've always wanted to be in the position to give back to the baker world. And, being on this team will help me do this because after it's all over, I'll get to share everything I've learned.
What are America's chances in the Coupe?
America's chances are great. The three of us [fellow team members Peter Yuen and Dara Reimer] have been working very hard and have been coached by so many prior team members that I believe we can do very well. The Bread Bakers Guild has given us as many opportunities as possible to work together and with the most talented bakers, and I believe we're learning our lessons well.
What are your plans after the Coupe?
I'd like to have another kid. My daughter has started calling the dog her sister, so it'd be nice to help her understand what a real sibling is all about. Professionally, I'm looking forward to getting back to work at the bakery. I've been too absorbed with the Coupe to be much good to my boss or my staff, so I'm looking forward to letting my bakers take some time off and getting back to work on the bench.
If you had to do something other than baking, what would it be?
I would love to be a crazy brilliant physicist or a pyrotechnician.
What advice would you give to bakers just entering the industry?
Work hard and have respect for every part of the process. Pay attention to the economics of it all. Work every shift offered. Find something to like about every part of your day — learn to enjoy repetitive tasks, heavy lifting. Keep learning — take classes, read books, ask questions and never be afraid to admit you don't know something. Get involved with the Bread Bakers Guild — they are a storehouse of information and opportunity.