I woke up on a recent morning, like every morning, thinking about toast. I knew that if I kept thinking about toast—not French toast, or toast points, but traditional white toast like you eat at breakfast—I would work myself up into a towering wrath. And there was nothing to be wrathful about! I had fallen asleep at the St. Cecilia hotel in Austin listening to Neil Young records, and woke up knowing that I was about to have breakfast outdoors with a grackle, one the city’s ubiquitous, crow-like carrion birds, at Jo's up the street. (I was in Texas to do the press conference for Meatopia Texas in San Antonio, and also to eat at Qui, which, by the way, is AWESOME.) Once at Jo's, I ended up with a world-class breakfast taco, which I shared with the friendly corvid. In Texas, excellent tortillas seem to take the place of toast much of the time, but I had wanted toast. And I couldn't get it. Because, in Austin as in so many great American cities, our restaurants all fail the Toast Test.
Andy Cohen, Bread Revolutionary. Photo courtesy Bravo/NBC Universal.
Anyone with good bread recommendations is automatically a hero in my book. So when Andy Cohen – who is already right up there for his hilarious talk show Watch What Happens Live and for being Exec Producer of F&W favorite Top Chef (starring our own Gail Simmons) – came around with a list of his favorite bread-centric places in St. Louis I freaked out. READ MORE >
Eric Ripert and Eric Kayser © Nigel Parry
This spring, New York City’s legendary seafood restaurant Le Bernardin stopped baking its own bread and began outsourcing the task to another legend, Maison Kayser, a famed Parisian bakery that opened its first American outpost on the Upper East Side last summer. “I thought the bread we had at Le Bernardin was fine but not at the level of the quality of the food,” explains Le Bernardin’s chef and co-owner Eric Ripert. Maison Kayser bakes and delivers 10 kinds of (still warm) bread to the restaurant three times a day. Among the offerings Ripert orders are mini and full-size baguettes, focaccia, and unusual offerings like rye-lemon loaves, basil-sesame rolls and turmeric-fennel rolls. “When I eat Maison Kayer’s bread it’s so good, it’s pleasure,” Ripert says. “Every roll has been made by hand. The quality of the flour that they use and the technology that they use to create their bread is very unique. Eric Kayser has invented what we call levain liquid: liquid sourdough starter.” Customers agree with the master French chef. “Since we’ve had the bread from Kayser, clients eat bread three times more than before,” Ripert says. “It’s great, but it’s expensive.” Here, Ripert chats with F&W about the evolution of bread in restaurants, the bread at Le Bernardin and his biggest butter pet peeve.»
Potpie Topped with Sliced Bread; © Stephanie Foley
Sliced bread is such an American standard that it's easy to forget that the boon to quick sandwiches and buttery morning toast is a 20th century luxury. Inventor Otto Frederick Rohwedder spent more than a decade perfecting the prototype for a machine that could both slice bread and wrap it to prevent staleness. Missouri’s Chillicothe Baking Company snagged his revolutionary design, and sold the first loaf of mechanically sliced bread on July 7, 1928.
Today, packaged bread remains a go-to kitchen shortcut. F&W's Grace Parisi even uses it to replace labor-intensive pastry crust in her fast Skillet Chicken-and-Mushroom Potpie, topped with slices of buttered white bread that become beautifully browned in the oven.
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