HomePlacesStarter Bakery in Berkeley and Oakland, CA

Starter Bakery in Berkeley and Oakland, CA

Brian Wood, Owner

Company Mission

From the very beginning, our mission has been to produce the best quality baked goods using the freshest ingredients – seasonal and local when possible – and in doing so, to develop staff and their skill level. We are now able to do this in a community space where people come to us for their fresh daily pastries and bread.

Signature Products

Our bakery is situated in a bustling neighborhood, full of food enthusiasts who have provided endless inspiration to our team. Developing new products has involved rigorous testing, such as 37 trials to perfect our new croissant recipe. Our range of baked goods leads with our signature Kouign Amann and the new Pistachio Cardamom Twist, as well as fresh croissant varieties baked throughout the day. We produce small batches of Hearth Breads (Olive Levain, Miche, Baguette), sliced breads, quiches, and serve locally roasted coffee and tea. 

Production Tip

Our overall operational efficiency for the bakery business is critical to the success of the retail store. The wholesale division is nearby and able to support the retail store with custom products ready to proof and bake, or portion and bake. The efficiency of the wholesale team is critical to the volume the retail store can do and is achieved by appropriate equipment, space and staffing. The retail team focuses on baking and finishing onsite.

Equipment ‘Must-Have’

One of our most important tools is our proofer-retarder. This equipment allows us to maintain a sane production schedule and control fermentation on our viennoiserie and breads. We can set a schedule that includes cooling, tempering to proof, proofing and holding.

Secret to Success

I think building a loyal customer base at farmers’ markets and selling to top coffee shops in our region for 12 years before we opened a store has been key. Two years ago we opened a direct-to-consumer online shop, which was the next step to opening our own store, and allowed us to be more creative outside of the wholesale model.

Future Goals

It has been exciting to create a space to welcome people to. We’re focusing on core, specialty items and branching out to add on a small line of savory items, desserts, including items for our grab-and-go case. Seasonally panettone is a big one for us; we plan to feature it prominently as a local gift for holidays. There is potential for one or two more retail locations, but the goal is not to get much larger than that.

Photos by Kristen Loken for Starter Bakery

For more info, visit www.starterbakery.com

(This article appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

Pastry Arts Magazine is the new resource for pastry & baking professionals designed to inspire, educate and connect the pastry community as an informational conduit spotlighting the trade.