Thursday, June 20, 2013

Breaking Bread with Shelby Kibler

Recently, the opportunity arose to sit down and chat with Shelby Kibler and his family, Julie and Esau. He hosted a lovely summer supper for us. We discussed his vision for Field & Fire Bakery. It will be located in the new Grand Rapids, MI Downtown Market, scheduled to open later this summer.

Kibler is a former manager, baker, and product developer at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI, working there for 12 years total. Originally from Stanton, MI, Shelby started out as an apprentice to a pastry chef in Sterling Heights, MI. He learned his bread baking craft at Grand Central Baking in Portland, OR and then during his two, six-year stints at Zingermans Bakehouse. Between those, Shelby worked in restaurants in San Francisco and Davis, CA.

The wood-fired oven bakery will be different than any other that I know of in the area. I think we are ready! The list of products is not the difference: high quality artisan breads, flatbreads, Neapolitan (thin-crust) pizzas, and savory pastries, such as cheese and ham croissants. He was careful to clarify that pizza will not be the main feature of his bakery.

Field & Fire is about healthy lifestyles. “The three of us live healthy lives, and I want to support others in that lifestyle,” said Kibler. “There will be very little sugar in the products with lots of whole grains.” There will be both yeasted and sour dough breads; his real passion is sour dough.

As he spends time in Grand Rapids waiting for his space to be built – it takes time to build two wood-fired ovens needing floor reinforcement – he is researching sources for organic and local ingredients. “Getting the right ingredients will take time and commitment; my vision is to connect with farmers to grow the grains that I need to mill fresh daily,” said Kibler. “There will be as much organic and local ingredients as I find as I make connections to piece the puzzle together over the next couple of years.”

His goal is to produce products with the best flavor and results while staying true to his food values. So, what did they serve for dinner? A lovely chickpea stew, side of beets, his own home-brewed beer, and, of course, bread. He mentioned that the first bread served was three days old. I thought ‘who serves a food blogger old bread?’ Shelby Kibler does, because he knows it still tastes great. And, that was the point. The other bread was a fresh-baked 10-grain sourdough – awesome to my pallet.

Watch for their opening on their Facebook page.

10 Grain Bread

Julie and Shelby Kibler

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