The Fresh Loaf

A Community of 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....

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. 

h2384783's picture

I realize this is an old thread, and I am brand new here (joined today), but as a former Miamian I thought I'd add my 2 cents. Zak's bread is awesome. In fact on Sunday I will be going to his deli in Wynwood for the first time. Previously I have bought his bread many times from a farmers market (his Dad manned the booth sometimes selling the bread and giving samples, I don't know if he still does), or the local Whole Foods also has a dedicated portion of their bread case for Zak's bread. So if the working condition's are good enough for Whole Foods, I think you can feel safe :). As far as the hat, I don't know if there are any pics of Zak without a head covering. He is a religious Jewish person and head coverings go along with that. Anyhow, for the rest of his garb, how someone dresses for a video may not have anything to do with how they dress in real life, and I would imagine that Zak has lots of help now in the baking of his bread as well since he had a stroke at 30 years old in 2016 and his business has grown so much because his food is GOOD! lol  I actually had the pleasure of hearing Zak talk about his life and its been a very interesting one that went from learning organic farming methods by apprenticing and leading to his present day business. Also Zak is known for being incredibly fair with his employees, he pays them a living wage right off the top (I believe no one makes less than $15.00 per hour, but don't quote me on that) so tipping is actually optional because the cost of purchasing his food includes the fact that he pays fairly and his employees do not totally live off their tips as many folks in the food industry do. So if you are in Miami, visit Zak's Deli, or buy a loaf at the farmers market in Pinecrest Gardens, ( it may be in other farmers markets too in Miami, I don't know that) or buy a loaf at Whole Foods in Miami his bread is yummy and he is a good person on the earth.     OK, that may have been more than my 2 cents, maybe more like 10 cents! lol        Ellen