The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 21, 2018 1:00 am

Making bread

Customer demand causes restaurants to bake their own

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

Dan Campbell is rolling in the dough. At least the kind used for making from-scratch bread.

It's not only been good for business, but also his restaurant's customers, who are reaping the benefits in taste and knowledge of where their food comes from.

Campbell, owner of Junk Ditch Brewing Company on West Main Street, is at the forefront of one of the hot new food trends for 2018 – in-house baking.

Bread is seeing a resurgence in America. No longer considered a bad word by many diners, restaurant operators are paying more attention to artisan preparations, health issues and opportunities to please consumers with new bread varieties, flavors and textures, according to US Foods, as well as other trend experts.

As a result, bread has become a must-have as more chefs have started making their own or turning to local purveyors of from-scratch bread. One of those is GK Baked Goods in Fort Wayne, which is operated out of the building that houses Junk Ditch.

Campbell says he definitely sees more interest in restaurants investing in making their own bread or providing homemade bread.

He says establishments are continuing to approach GK Baked Goods to supply that bread. They now have more than 20 clients.

The baking genius behind GK Baked Goods is Grace Kelly May, who is trained in baking and pastry arts and spent years working at top restaurants across the country. She returned home to Fort Wayne and began working for the Affine Food Truck and Junk Ditch Brewing Company Seeing the demand for artisanal baking, May began selling her products to local businesses and residents.

It has been a great partnership that has gotten Junk Ditch high praise for its menu offerings.

At Junk Ditch, the bread board, which offers different artisanal breads, has become one of its most popular choices among customers, Campbell says.

And while Campbell is seeing more smaller local restaurants looking to up their bread game, in general the trend has been a little slow to make its way to Fort Wayne, he says.

Chuck Kristek agrees.

The co-owner of Sassafras on Main in Bluffton hasn't seen the trend in Fort Wayne, but his customer base sees added value in his restaurant making its own bread, he says. “(Customers) demand it in our restaurant,” he laughs.

Kristek, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Sue, brought the from-scratch bread concept to the restaurant when it opened in 2012.

After having worked for more than 30 years in the restaurant industry, Kristek discovered that people were demanding a cleaner eating and flavor profile.

It was then Kristek decided making his own bread, as well as other items on the menu such as soups, salad dressings and desserts, would benefit his restaurant. 

Kristek says that in-house bread baking is making a renaissance and he believes that diners are going to be demanding more in-house baking or cooking from restaurants in the future.

“It's because people want to know what they are eating,” Kristek says, especially those who have food allergies.

In addition, Kristek says that bread “brings a comfort feeling to a meal.” 

“When you smell the smell of bread cooking,” he says, “it reminds you of great times that you have had with your families.”

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