Friday, October 21, 2011

The Best Twin Cities Bakers (and Bakeries) of 2012

OK Guys....the following in a sneak peek of my Food Service News column. You don't have to live in Minnesota to find the value in this publication. If you get a couple minutes you might want to go online and check out their scene.

And when you do....head straight to Mike Mitchelson's column, he is the "secret voice" that tilts the Twin Cities commercial food scene.

3-2-1 and.....................................

Food Service News

2012’s Essential Twin Cities Bakers

Can you believe that it’s already that time of the year again?

Time to discuss who next year’s relevant Twin Town bakers will be.

Before I start naming names, and hand over my scepter of approval, I should point out a trend shift that you might need to prepare for.
As we speak, donuts are becoming the new “cup cake.”

Bakers across the metro are finding unique ways to restore this comfort food whose sales numbers have suffered a severe drought over the last decade.

The following people are not ranked in any particular order. Let’s just say that the following concepts all merit equal attention.
So sit back, relax….and let Klecko take you into the future.

Beth Wright / Beth and the Biscuit - Personal Chef Service

It simply doesn’t make sense to me. I live in a progressive city that offers a plethora of international culinary concepts, but if I start getting an itch for down home southern cooking, there just aren’t any viable options.

That is till now.

Recently I met Beth Wright at a local food event and within moments I realized that I had found the human equivalent of a 4 leaf clover.

At first I had a hard time focusing on her products because I had become enthralled with her accent that was rooted in North Carolina.

I’m telling you, if I were a little more tech savvy, I’d find a way to hook her voice into my GPS system so I could hear it every day.

But don’t sell this woman short and focus your full attention on her southern charm. Go to her “Beth and the Biscuit Personal Chef Services” Facebook page and prepare to receive a firsthand education on biscuits, buttermilk, grits, corn meal and corn bread.

We are nothing short of blessed to have this woman in our community.
Let’s make sure we make her feel welcome.

Lisa Clark / Mojo Monkey Donuts –

What happens when you take an employee from Breadsmith and place them into a Yahtzee cup with occasional culinary trips to Seattle?

You get a brand new donut culture.

Capitol City rejoice, there’s a new donut shop on West 7th that has a monkey on its door and innovation in its kitchen.

Just yesterday I went in and snooped around and I have to tell you….I think I found heaven.

Key Lime Bismarks, Banana Pecan Fritters and traditional glazed donuts that make Krispy Kreme’s look savage.

The list goes on and on, but if its handcrafted delights you are after, this is the place for sure.

I mentioned to Lisa how impressive her branding and marketing for this flagship concept was, and with full humility she just smiled and explained that all she has to do was follow the suggestions of her children.

I’ve got a feeling about this place……it’s going to be around for a long-long time.

Kim Ode & Lee Svitak Dean / Baking CentralKim Ode & Lee Svitak Dean / Baking Central

OK, these ladies from the StarTribune might not work in a bakery, but none the less, their commitment to the topic surpasses most.

Today newspapers have to become “value added” if they are going to remain competitive.

But that’s not the only reason Dean & Ode created the “Baking Central” video series.

Another key reason for launching this project was to help remove the intimidation that all too often accompanies this noble art form.
Don’t take my word for it, just go down to the news room and check out the Emmy and National Journalism award that this series has raked in.

Bill Hanisch / Hanisch Bakery & Coffee Shop

For the first time ever, I’m going to add a bakery that’s not located in the metro. Why would I do this?

Because in addition to having the greatest range of any “Retail Baker” in the state; Bill has transformed this “Ma & Pa Shop” into one of Red Wing’s top destination spots.

Hanisch predicted the resurrection of donuts way before anyone else, and that’s why he has mastered recipes that include Maple Bacon, P.B.J., Butterfinger and at least a dozen other flavors.

This place is on course to go big time, so if I were you, I’d head over immediately so years down the road you can brag that you hung with Billy before he hit rock star status.

David S. Cargo / Baking Instructor

I can verify that David S. Cargo is one of the brightest minds in baking. I’ve hired him. Several years back he came into my shop and launched our successful ciabatta line.

Over the years David has worked the commercial side of the coin, but more recently he has gone a little “Bohemian” and now instructs a myriad of baking classes at some of the most interesting venues our city has to offer.

David has a knack determining the strength of your skill set, and then giving you the tools that will best suit your needs.

So pick your poison, do you want to learn how to make cinnamon rolls, sourdough or maybe construct an outdoor brick oven?

Whatever you choose, you’re going to get more than you paid for.

I guarantee it.

David S. Cargo / (651) 699 -7676

John Cardenas / Donuts Deluxe

If you ever pass through Vadnais Heights you’ll want to stop at the Donuts Deluxe.

When you do, I’ll make a couple bets with you.

#1 – You’ll never find a cleaner bakery on earth. Cardenas and his crew keep their shop immaculate.

#2 – Their Apple Fritter signature piece may be the most delicious baked good you will ever taste!

James Hanson / Chez Arnaud

It might be a little too early in his career to designate him as the cities premiere bread baker, but let me phrase it like this. If I was going to invest any of my own personal wealth into just one baker, I’d be backing James Hanson without a doubt.

In an industry that often uses ego to mirror insecurity, it’s so refreshing to see somebody have success while remaining humble.

I first met James awhile back at a King Arthur sponsored bread tutorial. While many business owners and production managers sat silently, as if they had all the answers, James asked questions.

He was “that guy” who ran up to assist the instructor the second a volunteer was requested.

During a brief intermission Hanson confessed that he had to work twice as hard since he didn’t grow up in a baking community like many of the others who were in attendance.

In fact, he spent several years focusing on the printing trade.
But hard work paid off.

On Saturday, July 16th 2011, Hanson represented the Chez Arnaud Bakery at the annual French Alliance of the Twin Cities – Bastille Day Baguette Competition.

James was going up against a large number of established bakers that had the advantage of past participation in this event.
It didn’t matter……Hanson brought home the gold.

When I asked if he got a trophy or medal, he tried to contain his joy……
“Nah, they gave us a really nice plaque. It’s hanging at our new White Bear location.”

In closing, I guess I’m gonna change my mind and say it…..

In Klecko’s opinion, James Hanson is the Twin Cities go to bread guy.

I’d be curious to know how my list lines up with yours….shout at me.


  1. i love the donut explosion. The Donut Co-op is set to open pretty soon too!

  2. ou know, there was other donut joints that could have made the list. YOYO was on a short list as well as a few others, but sometimes there is only room for a the top.

  3. always nice to see a nod to ode and dean.

  4. Yeah....but I will be doing a re write on Monday where I actually insert the StarTribune

  5. Any idea where to find this column in the current Food Service News, or do you know what month it's due to hit print?

  6. David, I will look to see if I have extra, but you can call Mike Mitchelson @ 612 767 3210. He is the editor.