There is a buzz surrounding the revitalization of Downtown Cary right now. That buzz is especially aromatic on the corner of West Chatham and Harrison Ave where the new production facility of La Farm Bakery is now open.
Raleigh Mom’s Blog had the amazing opportunity to attend the exclusive sneak peek inside this state of the art bakery and visit with the master of all things bread himself- Lionel Vatinet. Lionel and his wife Missy opened La Farm in 1999 at the Preston Corner’s location where they still operate. The passion that La Farm Bakery has for getting good, nutritious bread to the people of the Triangle area has seen the business grow and expand. They are at farmers markets, Whole Foods, and even have their own food truck. But growth comes with growing pains and their needs grew bigger than their one Cary location.
Enter the state of the art production facility in Downtown Cary. The setup is similar to their original location. This includes displays of mouth-watering breads and pastries, the smell of coffee, and the ever-changing chalkboard menus. What really sets it apart is what lies behind the scenes. And thanks to La Farm Bakery and NC Blogger Network, we were lucky enough to get a tour of the expansive kitchen and prep area.
Every detail of this facility is designed with baking in mind. The duct system is specifically created to circulate air in the most beneficial way for dough production. The pastry room has its own temperature control. This ensures that the warmer air needed for bread baking doesn’t disturb their macarons and other delicate creations. Not only is there more space for production, this facility is a location for research and development of all things grain related. Lionel wants to “push the limits on what they can do with grain.”
He artfully told us, while shaping baguettes, that the only ingredients you need to bake bread with is flour, salt, and water. Once you have all those things, “then you can start to be playful.” This Master Baker strikes me as part artist, part scientist, and maybe part comedian; joking that they only use Evian water for their baking. But no one is joking about La Farm’s commitment to excellence. This dedication to their craft runs through the entire staff. Their bakers come in to work in the middle of the night to make sure customers have warm bread in the morning.
Lionel’s passion for food shows in the way that La Farm Bakery operates but also in their interaction with the community. He believes in using quality ingredients (there are no chemical additives or preservatives in their bread) and that means a lot of local sourcing. A quick look around their store and you start to see how much local collaboration is happening at La Farm. Coffee from Counter Culture, honey from Bee Blessed, and whole wheat or rye flours from Carolina Ground. Even tomatoes are purchased in season from the local farmer’s market. As a passionate locavore, this makes my heart sing. (As Lionel says, “the bread should sing when you slice into it.”) As a mom, this makes me feel good about feeding La Farm to my children.
La Farm Bakery’s new location currently has breads, pastries, and drip coffees but will eventually be expanding to a cafe and coffee bar. Take one of their classes on bread making where Lionel says he gives away his secrets. He seems surprised that despite this people keep coming back to buy his bread in the store. (I suspect even after taking a class my bread would still be markedly inferior.) Or let the pros handle the baking and stop in for a boule of gorgeous hand shaped bread and know that not only is it beautiful, its nourishing for your family and your community.