by Malcolm Jolley
In the mid-1990’s, a professionally trained pastry chef at celebrated Toronto restaurant, Splendido, named Andrea Damon couldn’t help notice that there was no decent bread in the city. Splendido and the other top restuarants made their own. She told her boyfriend, now husband, Steve Gibson and he decided to adapt Damon’s idea for a bakery into a project for the MBA he was studying for at the University of Toronto. Gibson got an “A” and the couple took their idea to the bank who gave them a loan to start Fred’s Bread in 1995. Fifteen years later they’ve expanded to four storefronts from one for their Downsveiw bakery, but the sour dough starter they use for their artisan breads is the very same one and, despite the addition of a few fancy machines, the way they make bread has essentially remained the same. As a visitor, I was struck by how quiet and calm Fred’s Bread was compared to other food preparation operations. Employees, many of whom have been at Fred’s for years, including manager Dwight Reid who started with the Gibsons, seemed relaxed but focussed, tending carefully to each lump of dough. After a quick tour, I sat down with Steve and Andrea for the interview below.
This video was made possible through the kind support of Fortessa Canada / Schott Zwiesel.