The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

The Back Home Bakery will have a new intern, soon

codruta's picture

The Back Home Bakery will have a new intern, soon

Summer News.   My path in becoming a baker... (part II)

... goes through Kalispell Montana USA

 (A true story about chance, adventure and passion without boundaries)


Hello, TFL friends.

          As some of you know, there are some changes going on in my life and it all started a few months ago, when I decided I want to be a baker and open my own bakery in my town.
In the last years, I've been an amateur home baker and a TFL member and I spent hours and hours reading bread related subjects, experimenting and learning from my mistakes. I learnt a lot from books, blogs and from the greatest bakers on TFL. My love for bread grew so much, till one day I realized I'm only happy when I bake (no exaggeration here) and from that moment my final decision was taken.

I have been searching for a while some bakeries in Europe who would take interns during summer and some of you probably already read my previous post about this (link here) and so you know I'll go to Powburn at the beginning of August to meet Andy (Ananda) and to work with him for a week.

          One day I was talking with MC Farine, asking her if she can guide me to a nice bakery she visited in her travels in Europe. Her answer pointed me in a direction I would have never thought of: she suggested to talk to Mark Sinclair (mcs on TFL), the famous baker from the Back Home Bakery, Kalispell, Montana, USA. I needed three days to have the courage to write him, but I finally did and his answer to my request was affirmative.

          To make a long story short, I will spare you of the part that I had to go to the trouble of getting a tourist Visa for USA (there was some stress involved, because I was not the classic rich tourist type and there was a high risk of being rejected, but it all ended well) and I rather speak about the great joy I feel for getting the chance of traveling to USA to meet Mark, the baker who inspired me so much in the past and in the last months. My emotions are precipitating as the time for internship is approaching and I can't tell how glad I am because things arranged themselves as they did.

          I read all the posts here on TFL written by the former interns or by Mark himself, I read and re-read his internship application, I made my homeworks, I've talked to Mark a few times about the program and I know exactly where I'm heading (sleep deprivation, long hours of work, rigorous program) but I am very excited and motivated and determined to do my best and get the maximum from this amazing opportunity and challenging experience.

          TFL members who have been there before me, please feel free to advise me or to warn me, if it's the case, what are the dos and don'ts I have to be careful about.

          I think I will be the first Back Home Bakery intern who travelled from so faraway to get there. Also the first to spend more than 2 weeks in a row there. The first who's English is not the native language.

          For those of you unfamiliar with Mark's website, please visit it (link here) and watch his tutorial videos (link here) (or order the DVD's) because they are amazing and helpful whatever is your stage in baking (the ones demonstrating the shaping techniques are my favorites).

          I'll be at The Back Home Bakery in the interval between 16 August - 3 September. I will keep you updated when I'll get there, but till then I want to share wih you a drawing that Mark did specially for this blog post, which makes me smile everytime I look at it and it also makes my future to look so pretty :)

                                             "Under the spell of Kalispell" (my title)
with the note that "brutarie - deschis" means "Bakery - open"


If you have time and patience you can also read my post in my romanian blog (link here) (translation available on the upper right side), which given the fact that it was written in my native language it is a longer and more emotional version of this one presented here. Hope you'll enjoy it :)

Till we'll hear again, I'm wishing you all the best and keep on baking!




LindyD's picture

I think it's terrific that you'll be welcomed and looked after in the U.K. by Andy, and in the U.S.A. by Mark.

Your persistence and determination and admirable!

Looking forward to reading about your baking adventures with those fine gentlemen.  

PeterS's picture

Good luck with your visit. I look forward to reading about it.


codruta's picture

Hi, Peter, Thank you so much.

I will sure keep you posted.


codruta's picture

Thank you, Lindy.

I'm looking forward to come back and share with you my experiences!

pmccool's picture

As a former intern, I can say that you will learn a lot.  Mark is as passionate about teaching as he is about bread.  He and Sharon are a lovely couple.  I'm sure that you will enjoy your time with them.


codruta's picture

Thank you, Paul. Nice to hear from you. I'm sure I'll enjoy my time there, too.


Janetcook's picture


Thank you sooo much for sharing your journey here.  I am so impressed by your courage to do what you are doing especially when it involves traveling so far from home to a country where most of us do not speak your native tongue.  

From what I have seen of Mark here and on his web site I imagine the experience will be wonderful.  I imagine you will learn a lot but also experience a lot when you are out selling the breads on the weekend.  What a wonderful way to really immerse yourself in a part of a community rather than passing through it as a 'regular' tourist.  You will truly be living in Kalispell and taking a part of it with you when you return home.  I imagine the same will happen when you go to England to work with Andy.  How fun that your bakery will have a plethora of influences all of which will have an impact on the types of breads you bake.

If I were 30 years younger......even then I didn't possess the courage you have so it is a delight for me to be able to read about you doing what you are doing.  Puts a really big smile on my face.  At my age I content myself baking at home and learning here and passing my loaves onto neighbors or others in the community where we live.

Thanks again for sharing :-)

Take Care,


codruta's picture


thank you for such a nice comment. It's really great to know that you are so supportive and happy for me. I'll make my best to learn and take notes (both from Andy and Mark) so when I return, I can share my experiences with you.


Take care,


Yerffej's picture


This is absolutely wonderful.


codruta's picture

Hi Jeff. Thank you so much

ps. I'll get back to you on other channels, as soon as I can.



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

By now, you've probably heard the old saying of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". While you have to make the most of  the opportunity to learn from Mark, be sure to find some time to see the area where you'll be learning and working. The Kalispell-Whitefish and NW Montana area is incredibly scenic and it would be a shame if you didn't find time to do a little sightseeing while you're there.

Enjoy the adventure.


codruta's picture

Hi Jim, I'll make sure to find a little time in the afternoons to visit the area. I know it's incredibly beautiful and I'd like to relax my eyes and mind in those spectacular sights, take some photos, who knows if and when I'll get the chance to get there again!


Best wishes,


patnx2's picture

on your great adventure. I,m excited for you. Patrick

codruta's picture

thank you, Patrick.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"Go Sister! Go!"   

I'm so happy for you I have difficulty expressing myself.   I love turning and using the nervous energy one gets when flying off to an unknown land.   A real rush!  Use the energy.  Forward, with eyes wide open and camera in hand!  

Allow yourself a few days to get turned around with the time changes, come to think of it... twelve noon Europe time is 3 am there.   No problems at all!  You might even be up before the baker!  Lol!   

My tip as traveler: Keep one watch on your home time, stomach time, and for the first few days, drink but don't eat or eat very little in late afternoons & evenings when your stomach is normally asleep in Romania.  You can avoid a lot of indigestion that way.  I get very hungry around midnight to 2 in the morning there.  So squirrel away a big snack from Mark & Sharon in case you wake up about that time.  

:)  Have a good adventure and learn a lot!   


codruta's picture

Oh, Mini, Not that song again!!! :))


Good tips on the eating hours :)

it's always great to hear encouragements from you and your optimism is contagious. Thanks a lot!



dabrownman's picture

are so happy for you.  Andy and Marc all in the same month!  Now for the  trifecta?  Montana is beautiful place in August and the Olympics in London before that.  Should be dry in Northumberland too.  Things seem to be heading your way and you have the wind at your back.  What a great start to a professional baking career.

Good liuck and Happy Baking. 

codruta's picture

hi Dabrownman. How nice to hear from you those things, much appreciated.

Happy Baking to you, too!



dmsnyder's picture

What a great adventure, Codruta!

You're going to learn so much with such fine teachers!

I'm looking forward to your reports.


codruta's picture

David, I'll post my reports as soon as I'll have some spare time and acces to the internet.

Thanks a lot!


mcs's picture

Hi Codruta,

Since you asked about the do's and don' are a few of each:

Do observe, listen, and pay attention.  Most of the time I teach by demonstrating as we're working rather than setting aside a separate time to teach.  If you're thinking about how you usually do it, or how you've read about doing something, or someone else's technique, then you'll miss out on the subtleties as they are happening.

Do ask questions when you don't know what to do.  Since I spend most of the year working by myself, chance are I'll forget to explain some things that have become routine to me.  When something like this comes up, just ask me to explain. If you need it explained again, I'll do it again, and again.  No big deal.

Do anticipate.  As you get used to the routine and the different tasks, you'll know what's coming up next, and you won't have to ask what to do.  This will make both of our work efficient and the day will flow more smoothly.  I'll grab the baguette couche with the baguettes on them, you get the water for steaming and the baguette screens.  You do the stretch and fold, I record the time it was done.  I'll egg wash the rye before they go in the oven, you'll get the poppy seeds for sprinkling and the knife ready for scoring.  When this starts to happen without any verbal communication, it's a landmark.

What's the biggest Don't at any bakery?

Don't offer suggestions, or try to do things your own way, or someone else's way other than the boss of the bakery you're working at (in this case, that would be me).  Harsh, but true.  It's never good for the 'new guy' at a job to offer suggestions of how to improve production or the products.  Just as you wouldn't tell someone hosting you for dinner how to improve the meal they just served you or how to organize their kitchen, it's not cool to explain to the head baker how another baker's technique is superior to his own. 

Rather than ending with a Don't, I'll go back and end with the most important Do:

Most importantly, Do try your best.  At times it will be frustrating using techniques you haven't tried and working with dough you've never handled before.  Mistakes will be made and some bread won't come out as well as it should.  As long as you're trying your best, I'll make sure the bread and pastries come out good enough to make my customers happy and you'll be sure to have a learning, rewarding experience.

It's going to be great as we work together and have the time to work through five different farmers' markets.  After each one, I'll go over the things we did right and were we should improve, then we'll see how it goes the next time.  I'm really looking forward to working with you.


codruta's picture

Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to fill me in. It's even better to read those things directly from source. I'll make sure to recall everything when I'll get there.

Looking forward to working with you, too.


breadsong's picture

Hello Codruta,
You have some wonderful learning opportunities ahead - it is exciting to read about what you will be doing. 

My love for bread grew so much, till one day I realized I'm only happy when I bake

This reflection of yours reminds me of something Rose Levy Beranbaum wrote in the introduction to her book,
The Bread Bible:
"...when I don't have a bread going, I feel that something is missing. Could it be that I'm only completely happy now when a bread is happening somewhere nearby?".

I wish you much happiness with your bread-baking, and every success, as you work to turn your dream into a reality!
:^) breadsong


codruta's picture

Hello, Breadsong,

I've got emotional reading your message. I truly believe that bread baking is a source of happyness and a magic world.

Thank you so much for your wishes and you take care.


Thaichef's picture

Good Morning Codruta:

  What a wonderful post! Welcome to America. I just know that your life will be so enrich with your new experience working with two of  the best bakers.( I don't know these two gentlemen personally but always admired their works on TFL.)  I can't wait to read more on your future post.

 Like Janetcook I too had been thinking and dreaming of working as an apprentice with Mark(the Back Home Bakery) but my age and strength will not be possible to do all the works needed as an apprentice there.  So reading and admiring others who had been there are the closest thing to working and dreaming about it for me.  Thanks for sharing your dream with us.


codruta's picture

mantana, I'm sorry to hear that you are dreaming about being Mark's apprentice and that your age and strenght are an impediment for that. But if reading about my experiences will make you feel better or happy, I promise I'll give detailed reports, OK?

take good care and thank you.



thedutchbaker's picture

Hello Codruta,

I don't post a lot of messages on tfl but I have a bakery in Vt USA and always willing to show or teach you or any person who wants to learn the trade you can check us out on Facebook under bakkerij krijnen. 

I am a Dutch trained Pastry chef.

I hope you have a extra week

Let me know


Hans Krijnen

codruta's picture

Hans, thank you so much for your kind invitation, I really appreciate it and I would love to come and work with you, but..

...unfortunatelly, this time I don't have an extra week, I've bought the flight tickets a long time ago and I can't change the dates, but I will be certainly come in the states  in the future and then I'll make sure we will meet.

I checked you Fb page and your breads and pastries are awesome!



CJtheDeuce's picture

I am envious of your August schedule. You are entering the wonderful world of bakers apprentice.

I had so much fun learning from Mark I went back or round 2 last month mostly to get to eat some of the pastries. The darn things sell so well at the farmers markets I nearly had to resort to hiding some for my own selfish pleasure.


codruta's picture

Hi Charlie. Don't be envious (though I admit I was envious when I read you worked with Mark twice), but instead wish me good luck :)

ps. I heard so much about those pastries, can't wait to eat some and then learn to make them. :)



Mebake's picture

Great, Codruta! I hope you learn the most during your visit to Mark.

Lovely..! Interns with Andy, and Mark! Can't wait to see some pictures. you'd post some pictures, right ?


codruta's picture

Hi Khalid. So good to hear from you again.

I'll make sure that I'll post some pictures, don't worry.


All good wishes to you,

and thank you.


M2's picture

Hi Codruta,

I'm really happy for you, both because you're going to have this wonderful opportunity to learn from Mark, and also you're on your way to becoming a baker.  It was my dream also, but I'm moving towards the hobby farm path.  Both baking and growing things give me trememdous happiness.

Speaking as a former intern, do give all that you have!  I was like jumping up and down when I got the offer, and an uncontrollable smile stayed on my face during my long road trip to the Bakery.  I thought that I had such a strong drive but for some unknown reasons, I was hesitated...or should I say...reserved.  Whenever I look back, I wish that I could have done more. 

This is a life time experience, treasure every second you have at the Back Home Bakery!  (i.e. 1,209,600 seconds in 2 weeks)