Chef becomes baker

[attach]6965[/attach]The day Hootan Mahajeri was set to open Bread-Stuff Bakery, his mixer broke.

“We couldn’t open because we couldn’t make the bread for the day so it got pushed back one day and we had to scramble to get the guys who brought the mixer to come in to fix it quickly and then rush so we could try to do it the next day and that was quite hectic,” Mahajeri says from the bakery, which opened at Bayview and Sheppard avenues in September.

After training as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and working in many high-end restaurants with the likes of David Lee and Mark McEwan, he decided to open a bakery because he wanted more time to spend with his family.

“I had a young child and I wanted something that was a little bit more family friendly in terms of hours,” he says. “I didn’t want to get away from the industry that I loved … so I thought what can I do that’s still in the food business?”

Having developed a passion for bread while baking at home and at the restaurants he worked at, Mahajeri knew it was a good fit to offer a variety of breads and baked goods, including his personal favourite, a double chocolate croissant, in addition to savoury dishes like spinach pie and baked strata.

“The best part of the job to me is to make the bread. I love the simplicity of it,” he says adding he only uses certified organic flours and natural starters. “It’s four different ingredients flour, water, yeast and salt, and just the combination of them and the way the temperature and humidity affects it, it can be drastically different from one day to the next. So trying to keep that consistent and making sure your bread is coming out nicely everyday is a huge challenge and that’s a fun part of it.”

While coming up with names for the bakery and realizing practically everything was already taken, he decided on Bread-Stuff, an actual term meaning bread in any form or shape and flour, meal or grain used in the baking of bread.

“It happened to explain exactly what we were doing,” he says. “As soon as we saw that it was a word from the dictionary we were like done, that’s perfect.”

Mahajeri, who grew up in the area attending Earl Haig Secondary School, chose his location because there weren’t any bakeries nearby and it was conveniently located near the subway.

“We’re trying to kind of be a part of this community for a long time,” he says stressing that he wants to impress local residents with the quality of his products.

Along with the breads and sandwich specials he also offers staples like baguettes, wheat-free spelt and wild rice and onion loaves all made from locally sourced butter, flour, dairy and other ingredients.

“I believe if things are just a little better, like if your eggs are a little bit better, your sugar is a little bit better and your chocolate is a little bit better and your ingredients are just a little bit better than the average, the end product ends up being quite a bit better than the average so that’s what we strive for, it’s quality stuff.”