Tartine “Best Loaf” Webisode One
The Best Loaf of Bread
Tartine Bakery and Cafe is located on the corner of 18th St. at 600 Guerrero St. and is, like every shop in San Francisoc’s one block “Gastro District,” a total gem. It is the creation of Chad Robertson (baker extraordinaire) and his wife Elizabeth Prueitt (pastry chef supreme). As you will see in this webisode, you just want to eat everything that the eye takes in. If I still lived in San Francisco — and I once did live just blocks from where Tartine now is but, alas, it didn’t exist till much later — I would probably start everyday there with a pastry and a cappuccino and then return around 3 PM to grab one of the loaves you’re about to see. Our tour guide in this segment is Eric Wolfinger, who was one of the bakers at Tartine at the time we shot this video but has since moved on to a number of other interesting projects, including photographer of Chad’s new Tartine bread book. At the time, Eric lived upstairs from the bakery, so, in the next segment you will see us climbing the fire escape up to his apartment where he will make us a pizza on the same dough used to make the astounding French country loaves in this episode.
By the way, Chad was present when we shot this, working away in the background on his breads, and you will catch a quick glimpse of him shaping loaves on the work bench (he’s the one with the beard). I’ve been following his career as a bread baker ever since, as a young man, he had a bakery in Marin County, near Point Reyes National Park–one of the first wood-fired bakers I knew of who was able to build up a viable commercial bakery. But when he and Elizabeth made the move to Guerrero St. and opened Tartine, they really took it to another level. Chad found a way to transition from a wood fired oven to a much larger, gas fired French deck oven without losing any quality, and is now able to make a lot more people happy. The Tartine empire is growing, as they have now opened a restaurant and bar around the corner on Valencia St. called Bar Tartine, and the hits just keep on coming.
What’s significant about the success of Tartine is how Chad and Elizabeth, like many others of the past twenty five years or so (maybe we should call it the Alice Waters Generation, since she’s the iconic personification of what so many others are now emulating), found a way to stay true to their artisan values and bring so much joy to others. We went to “The Gastro” specifically to film at Pizzeria Delfina, yet we were so captivated by what was going on right next door that we spent an extra day just to get some of Tartine on film for you. We’ll continue this Tartine series next time, upstairs, baking a killer pizza in a small home oven, using Tartine’s perfect bread dough.
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