The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Zak the Baker: Video and article

jstreed1476's picture

Zak the Baker: Video and article

A cursory search turned up no content on TFL about Zak the Baker, a Miami baker whose process is attractively documented in What is Artisan Bread? Here's a short article with a little background.

Anyone here ever try his product?

davidg618's picture

This is not meant to criticize  Zak's baking prowess. The video itself speaks volumes of his skills. I enjoyed watching it immensely.

But, if I'm ever in Miami, I won't be buying his bread. I wasn't attracted.

He begins his demonstration, dutifully donning his hat--presumably, in compliance with a Florida or Miami-Dade County health regulation; then in his cool (take that any way you wish) tank-top and suspenders, he blithely waves his hairy armpits over ingredients, mixings, dough, ovens and finished loaves continuously throughout his process.

David G


jstreed1476's picture

In fact, I think a comment in the news article link mentions that, too.

I'm reminded of a picture in one of the famous bread books--maybe by Leader?--in which a shirtless French baker with a lame clenched in his teeth casts a handful of flour over shaped loaves.

clazar123's picture

I didn't watch the video but your description strongly reminded me of a "behind the scenes" tour I got at a restaurant a number of years ago where a large guy with a hairnet in place and clean white apron was mixing a large tub of coleslaw with his bare hands and the hairiest arms I have ever seem. He was elbow deep in it. This was before using gloves was the standard but not before common sense was invented. I never ate there after that.

dabrownman's picture

it really doesn't bother me all that much.  After seeing the bakers in SF in the late 60's and early 70's and what they did  to their bread and how they did it and then baking with my much hairier apprentice all these years-  Zak is pretty tame.  But I can see where others would be put off.

It's the bacteria, yeast and who know what else that I cultivate in SD that scares me to death :-)

yy's picture

Zak's outfit strikes me as half professional garb, half superhero costume. It kind of adds to his overall charm - kind of like a crazy uncle who is fanatical about handmade artisan bread.

On another note, I wonder if somebody has invented armpit hairnets.

plevee's picture

I have seen many old photos of bakers working in nothing more than a pair of underpants because of the heat from the oven. If my memory serves me well some of these pictures were from the the Poilane bakery.

Bread is baked to an internal temperature of ~210F which sterilises the end product very well. I think the problem is merely aesthetic.


ananda's picture

He looks like a great baker to me; isn't that what really matters?


davidg618's picture

Am I to presume the immaculate white coat and white hat you wear is for show only?

David G

LindyD's picture

Completely agree with Andy.  Zak bakes beautiful bread with natural ingredients.  

Wasn't there a post here a while back from someone looking for a place to intern?  Zak takes on interns....

Lalush's picture

I heard this guy inoculated his sourdough mother by scrapping the oils off the forehead of a Bedouin buck  in heat! Supposedly you can taste subtle hints of goat musk in his bread from August to November! 

The white tank top and suspenders are clearly just for show, because rumor has it he normally bakes completely naked.

; )

RoundhayBaker's picture
RoundhayBaker fact, he's even slower than me. How did he ever make the grade in a busy bakery? Must be the Miami heat.

Re: the hair debate. There have to be sensible limits. Some of the best bread I've had has been made by very hairy specimens. I don't think our species sheds armpit or facial hair in the same way it does from the scalp. Hmm, might go and find a doctor to get an answer to that.