In a surprising twist, the Bread Bakers Guild of America gave the Professor Raymond Calvel Award to two recipients at this year’s Wheatstalk conference at Kendall College in Chicago. Abe Faber, Guild steering committee member and co-owner of Clear Flour Bread, Brookline, Mass., and Craig Ponsford, former Guild chairman and owner of bakery/innovation center Ponsford’s Place, San Rafael, Calif., both received the award for their service to the artisan baking community.
“We haven’t given the award in awhile so we thought we’d give it to two people. We told each of them that they would be presenting it to the other one, and we thought we’d have Craig speak first so Abe would figure out what was going on,” Guild board member Jeff Yankellow joked.
Ponsford and Faber have been involved with the Guild since 1994. Faber is the former vice chair of the Guild, a post he held for 11 years. He and his wife Christy Timon own Clear Flour Bread, which has been open since 1982, and specializes in European artisan breads and viennoiserie.
“We couldn’t have kept Tom McMahon’s vision for the Guild clear without Abe,” Ponsford said. “He understands the economics of what we do for a living, and he’s always been defending our rights as the bakers.”
Ponsford was chair of the Guild for eight years. He currently teaches at the Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, Calif., and has his own bakery and innovation center.
“Giving [the award] to Craig gives you that push and responsibility to do something with it, like when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize after he was president,” Faber said. “You’re a lifelong educator and lifelong learner. You’re concerned with quality and standards but also the health and nutrition of your customers and friends. You have always upheld what was central about the Guild for me.”