If you live in South Florida, you have probably bought a loaf of bread made by Zak Stern, better known as Zak the Baker, at a farmers market or you’ve tasted one at a local restaurant.
In May he moved his Hialeah operation and opened a bakery-café in Wynwood (405 NW 26th St.) with a white industrial interior and open kitchen. If all the tables are full, eat in the garden across the street.
Zak grew up in South Miami and dropped out of pharmaceutical school in Atlanta after a semester. He realized the irony of studying science and chemistry without knowing when a tomato was in season.
He began a five-year agricultural journey at Bee Heaven Farm in Homestead. Next, he visited an aunt on an ashram in India and then worked on farms in South America, Israel and Europe, learning to bake and make cheese. He returned two years ago, bought an oven and started baking in a buddy’s garage.
Zak lives on an urban farm in Little Haiti with his wife, Batsheva Wulfsohn, and a few alpine goats. The two met in a village in Israel; when she came to apprentice a few months ago, they married.
The menu is on a chalkboard by the counter, where hard-crust sourdough loaves sit, including Jewish rye, walnut cranberry and multigrain.
Choose from savory or sweet open-face toast. On a recent visit there was sardine toast with creamy caper, scallion and raisin relish; toast with herb cream cheese, sliced beets, radishes and cucumbers; toast with cheddar-pimento cheese with pickled okra; toast with whipped ricotta and summer squash; and toast with cashew butter and blackberry jam.
There’s also soup, salad, quiche and coffee cake of the day, allowing you to taste the story of Zak and his quest for meaning and wholesome food.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.