Baking a Better Bread

Uptown Bakers: A huge Bakery providing bakery items for the areas top restaurants and food outlets is run by V.P. of Operations Didier Rosada.
Uptown Bakers: A huge Bakery providing bakery items for the areas top restaurants and food outlets is run by V.P. of Operations Didier Rosada. (Mark Finkenstaedt - Mark Finkenstaedt)
By Emily Kaiser
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

In a Hyattsville warehouse with tall ceilings and plenty of light, an experiment has been quietly underway since April to bring more good bread to Washington.

A master baker has been hired to run a gleaming new 39,000-square-foot bakery for Uptown Bakers, one of the area's largest wholesale suppliers of artisanal pastries and breads.

Its new machines are churning out about 30,000 pieces of bread and pastry a day, seven days a week, for more than 500 restaurants across the metropolitan area.

While Uptown shuttered its own retail operations several years ago, the signature onion breads at local Morton's of Chicago steakhouses, the takeaway baguettes at Balducci's and the breakfast muffins at Caribou Coffee are all baked here. The White House and other government agencies are also regular clients.

The April move from the company's cramped bakery on I Street NE was not just about scale, though. Uptown hopes to combine traditional techniques with the best modern technology to bring artisanal bread to a mass audience. In so doing, it wants to be the best wholesale bakery, not just locally but in the entire United States.

"To do that, we need the best equipment and the best bakers," says owner Mike McCloud. And to lead that process, master baker Didier (DID-ee-yay) Rosada has been lured to Hyattsville from San Francisco to become Uptown Bakers' vice president of operations.

Rosada, 36, born in a small village outside Toulouse, France, coached the Bread Bakers Guild Team USA to its second victory at the Paris Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, the baking's world's version of the soccer World Cup. Team USA took the cup for the first time in 1999. This year, Rosada's third turn as team coach, the American team beat close contenders France, Japan, Switzerland and Belgium.

Rosada started baking at 15 as an apprentice and later earned a masters degree in baking from the Institut National de Boulangerie Patisserie in Rouen, France, one of the world's few graduate schools in baking. For the past 10 years, he has lived in the United States, working as an instructor at the National Baking Center in Minneapolis and the San Francisco Baking Institute and as a consultant to bakeries and flour mills around the globe.

He has taught artisanal varieties of flour, bread formulas and fermentation, bakery equipment, design and management. " I've never worked with anyone better-qualified than Didier, " says Tom McMahon, the founder of the Bread Bakers Guild of America.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company