This summer I worked three or four days a week at this bakery. It’s a half-minute drive from my house, which was luxurious in a sense because I had to wake up before dawn bent over to show us its crack. I would rise to the most jarring alarm at 3:45 AM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, force-feed myself a banana or some cereal (to avoid eating too many cookies in the morning) and head up the hill to meet Noah Elbers, the baker. Noah comes from a line of the most hard-working people, a breed that loves its community as hard as it works. That’s why Noah was just finishing the bake as I arrived at 4 in the morning. He’s up all night, throwing loaves into his gloriously handsome, wood-fired Spanish oven (with rotating floor) and keeping himself company, which he seems to do quite well.
I never actually baked anything (many of you were wondering that), but my duties were just as essential to running the operation smoothly and giving Noah some much-needed rest. I packed the still soft and steaming bread into bags for deliveries (which make up most of his sales), packed cookies, lined the bread baskets with cloths, brought in wood, swept, and attended to several other odd jobs. Kurt and Dave were the other regular employees, and they helped with farmer’s market sales and preparing the dough for baking. Kurt is Beavis and Dave is Butthead, and that’s a heartfelt compliment. I’ll miss those guys.
I highly suggest you check out the bakery’s website, www.orchardhillbreadworks.com, to see pictures, read Noah’s history and philosophy, and buy bread! I think it can be ordered online, and, absolutelycompletelyutterly without any sort of bias at all whatsoever, it’s gotta be the best bread on earth. Sure, Noah’s always looking for ways to achieve greater consistency and quality, but he’s just setting the bar higher and higher, that’s all.
It was an awesome summer. I got to work with, and get to know better, a friend I’ve known since childhood; I got used to working at odd hours (a useful life skill – they don’t teach that in Life Skills class… which I skipped anyway); I became more familiar with how a small business works; and I got to eat all the fresh sourdough bread my stomach could absorb.