The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Please help the SFBI keep its doors open

Floydm's picture

Please help the SFBI keep its doors open

 The San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI), one of the premier baking schools in North America, needs your help convincing regulators to allow them to keep their doors open while they jump through a few new regulatory hoops. Here is a letter from SFBI staff members explaining what is happening.

Please take a moment to sign this petition in support of the SFBI.




Pizza Vacuum's picture
Pizza Vacuum

As someone who has attended two week-long courses at SFBI and would like to enroll again in the future, I urge people to sign the petition and ask friends to do so as well.  In addition to its many wonderful classes, SFBI, through the generosity of its founder, Michel Suas, has supported artisan bakers both individually and as a whole through substantial donations of time, infrastructure and money.  

Shutting down SFBI while the bureaucracy twiddles is an existential threat to SFBI.  You can probably imagine the problems:  no revenues, refunds to students, continued real estate and instructor costs.  If they can't get permission to operate during the review, the financial burdens imposed may be unresolvable.  

Michel has always been around to help people and this is his time of need.  Please help by signing the petition and urging friends to do so.  SFBI is a shining example of the good that can evolve from the work of a genius.  The thought of it closing due to the indifference of Government is intolerable.

Thank you,

The Vacuum



OldWoodenSpoon's picture

As one of the many here on The Fresh Loaf that has attended a weekend workshop or week-long baking course at SFBI, I want to add my voice to the rest to encourage all of you to respond to this situation.  SFBI is, in my amateur opinion, one of the very best opportunities available to those of us that are amateur, but aspire to bake at a more than amateur level.  This is professional-level training available on a size and scale that is accessible to us in a form that is at least rare, if not exclusive.  SFBI offers us the opportunity to study under accomplished and acknowledged professionals.  It offers us the chance to work in a professional environment and to interact on a personal level with others of similar mindset.  If the State of California is successful in forcing this fine enterprise to close it will be a loss to all of us.  It will also be a huge personal blow to the SFBI team. 

Please do what you can to help:  sign the petition.  Send an email of support.  Do whatever your heart tells you to do.

Thank You,

LindyD's picture

SFBI's situation is a essentially a bureaucratic matter as a result of government incompetency and while signing a petition may have some benefit, California state legislators should also be called and informed of what's going on, especially as shutting down SFBI will further strain an already sinking California economy.   If a business is forcibly closed, it can't pay taxes and its employees will file for unemployment compensation.    One would hope that the politicos would see the light and step in, if they have any common sense, that is.

If I was a California resident, I'd also be calling Governor Jerry Brown and the local media - including radio, t.v. and newspapers.   After all, SFBI has been in business for 25 years, excels in what it does, and the only thing that has changed is California code.   This is really unconscionable on the part of the bureaucrats.

Ruralidle's picture

Sorry LindyD but the words "politicos" and "common sense" should not be used in the same sentence - unless "common sense" is preceded by "no". That applies to the UK as well as the US.

Harry Rodgers's picture
Harry Rodgers

While this is a distressing matter, one for which I'm sure we'd all like to see a postive outcome, I'd be hesitant to sign a petition without more information about the regulators actions.

The website for the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education maintains a current list of all its disciplinary actions here:

I don't see SFBI listed on there but it was last updated on November 13th although the most recent citation shown on that list is dated 12/20/2012.

They also list compliance inspections here:

Again SFBI does not appear on that list.

Pizza Vacuum's picture
Pizza Vacuum

The Bread Baker's Guild has a discussion of this topic.  One member called the BBPE and was told they received SFBI's application on Nov 9th but there's a big backlog.  The problem is BBPE has issued a closure notice which shuts down SFBI pending their review.  Calling the BBPE seems to have uncovered information for at least one person.  Further calls might produce more.

The Guild member noted the person he spoke to sounded defensive and recommended a calm, courteous approach for those calling in.

Contact info for BBPE is below, but first here's a copy of an email I got from someone at SFBI this morning when I asked what's going on.  He said feel free to distribute the information:

Hello friends of SFBI far and wide,

 We hope this letter finds you well this holiday season. As some of you may be aware from an email sent yesterday by our boss and founder Michel Suas, SFBI was ordered to cease all operations as of last Friday by California's Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Although we have indeed submitted all the proper documentation, forms and associated fees to renew our license to operate, the state has ordered us to shut down while they process our application. We have been informed that this process of review can take 2-3 months or even more. Sadly, we will be unable to survive the financial strain such a period would impose upon our very small organization. 
Clearly this is a grave situation with great urgency, one for which we are reaching out to you for your support. That is why we the staff, the SFBI Family, are reaching out to you in the hope that we may be able to convince the BPPE to allow us to remain open while our application is pending review.
Faced with little recourse, we immediately decided to initiate a petition on, which you can view and sign by clicking here. We invite you all to sign the petition, which we plan to submit on this fast-approaching Monday, December 31st, New Year's Eve.
 We the team here at the school did not learn of this until yesterday, as Michel did not want to dampen our personal holiday celebrations in the past few days with this heartbreaking news. We are now facing the very real and shocking possibility of closing our doors in just a few days, and close to 30 people losing their jobs at the drop of a hat. Some of us have been here several years, some of us are interns who have recently graduated and are starting our baking careers. The common thread we all share is our love of baking and the passion to share that skill and knowledge with people like you from around the country and globe. We hope to continue serving the artisan baking community for many years yet to come, but right now we are asking for your help. What has SFBI meant to you, or to a loved one who has attended classes here? How will the artisan baking industry and movement suffer if SFBI must shut its doors? We encourage you to send us your statements of support via this email. Please do note that the SFBI website and email may soon have to go offline per the order to cease all operations, so this email address as well as are for now the best points of contact. We also offer our heartfelt thanks to the many who have already reached out to us in the last 24 hours since receiving the news. Thank you once again for your support now and throughout the years. Once again, the petition can be viewed by clicking the above link, or by pasting this URL into your browser: Yours very truly, Miyuki, Mac, Juliette, Frank, Kate, Laura, Alysia and the rest of The SFBI Team


BBPE Info:

Mailing Address:
Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education
P.O. Box 980818
West Sacramento, CA 95798-0818

Physical Address (as of November 20, 2010):
Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 400
Sacramento California, 95833

Phone: (916) 431-6959
Toll Free: (888) 370-7589
Main Fax: (916) 263-1897
Licensing Fax: (916) 263-1894
Enforcement/STRF/Closed Schools Fax: (916) 263-1896

Web site:




plevee's picture

I just got an email saying they will be allowed to stay open during the recertification process because ot the volume of support.

Zoologuy's picture

Received today from SFBI, good news:

Dear SFBI family!


Thank you so much for your overwhelming support! Due to the pressure of everyone the Bureau has agreed to let us reopen today!


Thank you to Leeza, an analyst at the BPPE, who has agreed to work with us and let us continue to operate while the application finishes processing. This does and will mean a few changes around SFBI but we will continue to bring the baking world and our students the best training possible.


Although I would love to thank each person individually and let them know the great news, I would like to express in this letter how very grateful I am for each one of you who have expressed support, written letters, signed our petition, spoken to media and government on our behalf, and encouraged us through your calls and emails. All of your voices made me realize the importance of SFBI in many levels on everyone's life, personal or business and I could not let it go. It amazed me the group of people from all over the world who reached out for support because we all have the same goal, "Baking good products".

We thank you and 2013 is going to be a good year with lots of new support from SFBI. This little bump made me realize the importance for SFBI to keep supporting innovation and education and realized from all your emails you are counting on SFBI Team and really appreciate what we do.


SFBI team and Thorough Bread and Pastry are joining me to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your action and wish you a happy new year.


                                                                                Best Regards,




                                                                                Michel Suas

                                                                                Owner and Founder

linder's picture

Hooray!  Glad they will be staying open.  It would've been a shame for them to close.  SFBI offers a great service.

dstroy's picture

That is excellent news!!!

winstonsmith's picture

This is wonderful news. My wife is an educator in NY and we understand well intented but poorly implemented regulation. Congratulations, and perhaps in the long run adverse circumstances will result in an increased positive visibility. Have to find that silver lining :)

yy's picture

YAY! That is all.

BurntMyFingers's picture

A shout out to Leeza, the analyst at the regulatory agency. I've frequently found that there are creative individuals in these agencies who are willing to help California individuals and companies manage apparently ridiculous legislation.

dmsnyder's picture

Congratulations are in order to TFL, the BBGA and the entire bread baking community who expressed support for the SFBI. It's really a collective victory.

I'll bake a bread in celebration.


dabrownman's picture

Me too!  Just got some bagels going that my apprentice has already named 'SFBI Bagels" out of her heartfelt respect for what they have done for the bread baking world.  Such great news that made our day!

LindyD's picture

Hats off to all who supported SFBI, including the BBGA and those folks in California who contacted their legislators and media.   

It's nice to see injustice reversed.

Well done, bakers!

Wild-Yeast's picture

In a word - "Organized"...,


rossnroller's picture

Sometimes people power does work! Thrilled at this result, and to have been a tiny part of it. I've been signing online petitions relating to various causes dear to me for a long time, but this is the first in which the response has been so prompt and direct.

Hurray for the SFBI and the bread community!


SallyBR's picture

Exactly my thoughts!  I won't repeat your words, but want to say "I second that"   ;-)

Floydm's picture

Thank you everyone who stepped up and helped the SFBI!


(I'll unsticky this post tomorrow AM, after a few more folks have had a chance to see it). 

hanseata's picture

I signed the petition when I saw it on facebook.