Here’s how you can tell Miami has raised its fresh-baked-bread game: New York wants a slice.
That’s the reason the scent of fresh-baked bread rises with the sun from a repurposed building in Little Haiti. Earlier this month, Miami’s outpost for New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery quietly started baking James Beard Award winner Jim Lahey’s crusty, chewy Italian-style bread in a state-of-the-art bakery, and the loaves have started showing up in several restaurants around Miami.
Lahey, whose bread has been a hit since he opened his bakery in Soho in 1994, teamed with local developer and restaurateur Steven Perricone of the long-running namesake Brickell restaurant, whose real estate group owned the property at 5500 NE Fourth Ave., across the tracks from Soyka. Together, they are bringing Lahey’s bread to Miami, starting with his Perricone’s Marketplace and Cafe, where it is also on sale in the market.
“We want to make bread that people fall in love with,” Lahey said by phone from New York.
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Sullivan Street has gotten an immediate toehold in several major neighborhoods. Its bread can be found at River Oyster Bar in Brickell, Joey’s in Wynwood, Café Roval in Little Haiti and 27 Restaurant & Bar in Miami Beach. They hope to distribute their bread with their own fleet of trucks from their centrally located bakery, including to local grocery stores and markets.
Within the next year, Perricone said he expect to build a retail section and café at the bakery where they will sell pastries and other baked goods. Lahey is even eying bringing one of his Co. pizzerias to South Florida.
“Miami already has great bread, and we think it can use more great bread,” Lahey said. “We’re trying to raise the standard of bread culture in America, one loaf at a time.”
Credit Miami’s local, independent artisans for priming the market for Lahey and company. Miami-born Zak Stern led the way with Wynwood’s Zak the Baker, whose bread is now available in South Florida Whole Foods Markets up to Palm Beach County. His disciples include the owners of the new Madruga Bakery in South Miami and two of Sullivan Street’s bakers —including head baker Matthieu Bettant, who worked with Stern for more than a year.
They add to a field that includes other small bakeries such as True Loaf in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour and North Miami’s La Parisienne Bakery.
“I felt for a long time there was a void, and I thought it was the right time to fill it,” said Perricone, whose Upper Eastside Partners LLC paid $2.7 million for the property in 2014.
In Bettant, Lahey found someone with baking bloodlines. He’s a fourth-generation baker from Lyon, France, where his father still runs several bakeries. He spent two months living with Lahey in New York, working at Sullivan Street to ensure that the bread is up to Lahey’s standards. Miami’s bakery is making three kinds of bread, for now, and will expand to more varieites by the start of the season in the Fall.
At Miami’s Sullivan Street, Bettant is working with advanced equipment capable of baking up to 8,000 loaves of bread a day. But Lahey says the goal is not mass production but carefully crafted bread that is tasty and consistent. Each loaf is cut and shaped by hand.
“There’s definitely space for another quality bread,” Bettant said.
Lahey’s own bread is distinctive. His signature rustic Italian Pugliese bread is served at more than 250 New York restaurants, and he has opened bakeries in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. He innovated the no-knead bread technique and was the first to win a James Beard Award for outstanding baker.
The idea for this bakery was more than five years in the works, said Perricone, a New York native who has called Miami home since 1990. Aside from his Perricone’s Marketplace and Cafe, a pioneering restaurant in once-dead Brickell, he has partnered with other restaurants in the past, such as Michelle Bernstein’s late CENA by Michy. Just as he longed for better bread at restaurants, he longed for it at home.
“I grew up with my mother and grandmother sending me to the corner bakery for fresh bread. I wanted that here,” Perricone said.