What does a man named Steve Horton + 22 years baking experience + a vacant space in Northeast Minneapolis' Food Building equal? Nothing short of the Twin Cities' premier milling and baking facility, Baker's Field Flour & Bread and the finest loaf of bread for sale at your local grocery co-op! Kelly and Jeff at Dumpling & Strand nominated Steve for his pure passion and ground-breaking work in the industry.
How'd a guy like Steve find himself waking up for the 4AM baking shift, receiving hundreds of pounds of grain fresh from Minnesota farms, milling them on a unique granite mill, and then moving swiftly on into the evening to promote his business to crazed fans like us Forward Eaters?
After pursing a Bachelor's degree in Urban Planning, Steve found himself managing a Caribou Coffee, and later working at the metro's artisan bread chain, Breadsmith, where he fell fast in love with the art and science of baking and taught himself much of what he knows today. From there, he moved on to managing the The Wedge's Co-op's (now defunct) wholesale bakery operation. Years later, he opened his own bakery, Rustica, which quickly gained a local and national following. When the venue space in Food Building opened up, Steve was eager to move onward to a venture that would allow him to delve even deeper into his interests in milling, collaborating with local farmers, and gaining a deep understanding of how different grains translate into different artisan breads.
Baker's Field has now been open for just over a year, and is still settling into its home in the Twin Cities market. "At capacity, we're a small operation," Steve explains. "We're working with farmers on a small scale, which can involve a lot of risk." Last year, Steve hired a farmer to grow a 30-acre crop of rye for him to mill and bake, but the farmer lost the crop due to an early frost-- a huge financial loss to both the farmer and Baker's Field. "We're building this local operation from the ground up, which allows access to a lot of unique grains and opportunities. It's a risk but it's also exciting because nobody else is really doing it."
"Our biggest challenge now is getting the word out and educating people about why they'll enjoy our breads." Look for Baker's Field demos in co-ops around the metro, and stay tuned for several pop-ups at Food Building closer to the holidays. Food Building (and Baker's Field) is open for self-guided tours Tuesday-Friday from 8 to 3pm. Bread loaves and other baked goods are sold individually and are on the menu at the neighboring Draft Horse restaurant Tuesday through Sunday. If you haven't picked up a baguette or loaf of table bread yet, I highly encourage you to give it a shot! Baker's Field bread is an experience, not just breakfast--especially when customers can have such easy access to viewing the space in which it's all made, and the incredible scientific knowledge of the business's owner and staff. Reach out, get involved, eat good bread!!
And now, stay tuned to see which local kickass business Steve nominated for the next blog post!