My education in baking began under the tutelage of a fourth generation baker of Spanish and Italian descent from whom I learned old world techniques and where I came to know the dance that is production baking. Eight years later, after exploring a handful of vocations, I returned to baking in my own way — with a rigorous eye, inquisitive palate, exacting standards, and a desire to bring my customers products that feed both the spirit and the body. OWL Bakery has become my pulse and my practice, where I blend a formal education in food anthropology, a passion for improving my craft, and my experiences abroad, in the kitchen, and in the garden.
I first began to bake at my Grandma’s counter, where I sat cracking eggs into cookie batter. It was in the same kitchen years later where I conducted my first oral history interview with her, an experience that propelled me toward a career as an historian. While pursuing a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I tended a small plot in a community garden and regularly visited the city’s plentiful farmers’ markets. These dual pursuits, history and food, sustained me then and nourish me still. My work at OWL Bakery fuels my creativity, connects me to the past, roots me in the present, and enriches my life by making and sharing food with others.
My first experience with specialty coffee was inside of a Charleston single house — a bright, open coffee shop named Hope & Union. As the sun rose every morning, I would scrounge up the spare change I had lying around, stroll down two city blocks, and start my day seated on a bench, casually catching up with my friends behind the counter, mesmerized as each drop of brewed coffee danced downward, slowly filling the decanter below. A simple sip brought with it a feeling of discovery. Flavors emerged that I had never expected to come from coffee. These coffees were characterized by natural sweetness and fruit notes, and body that could be delicate and tea-like or full and deep. I soon realized I wasn’t alone in being drawn to these experiences. A community of chefs, artists, professors, business professionals, architects, students, parents, punks, preps, and everyone in between streamed through the glass doors each morning, drawn in by quiet conversation, a welcoming atmosphere, and coffees that couldn’t be found anywhere else in the city. Each person contributed to the sense of community fostered in this shop. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this daily ritual as one of the baristas who curated the space. A few months later, I was hired and embarked upon my journey into the world of coffee. Five years, six coffee shops, and countless thousands of pour-overs brewed, I’m still discovering daily about the ingredients I work with and I still find myself inspired by the community of open-hearted people that coalesce into a community of coffee lovers. At OWL bakery, I strive to continually offer fresh experiences to the members of our community as we share our days with each other.
I was fortunate to have been born into a food family. Every time I shared a table with my grandparents, we were celebrating one thing or another — not just birthdays and holidays, but accomplishments of all sizes. In my family, food is meant to be celebrated and I carry that with me now. With a degree in Environmental Studies and a Concentration in Sustainable Agriculture, I have a great appreciation for food and the science behind it. Having worked on local farms and in bakeries, I am inspired by our region's ability to provide fresh produce for our community. I love baking in tandem with the seasons and creating pastries that highlight the flavor of our region.