What part of town do you live in?
I live by the Falls.
How long have you lived in this area?
I grew up down here. My parents have a small mango grove and I’m living there.
Would you tell us a little bit about what you do during the week?
I own a bakery. I spend most of my time there, running around, managing, and talking to customers. And, I’m still doing a little bit of baking, which I enjoy.
How did you get into this business?
My family is in the food business and it’s always been something I’ve been interested in. In high school, I started baking challahs every week for a service project. After college, I wanted to try working in food. I ended up in Anchorage, Alaska and worked at a bakery there and fell in love with it.
Is your family involved in the business now?
Yes. My Dad is a co-owner at the bakery, so we work closely together. There are those ups and downs, but for the most part it’s great. He has a lot of wisdom. We have different perspectives that are helpful and I can totally trust and count on him.
What lessons have you learned from him?
A lot. He’s very customer focused and really enjoys serving people food and making it hospitable. Whatever the customer wants, if we can do it, we try to do it. He really has the feel for what is selling and how people respond to these things. I’m learning that intuition.
What part is the most fun for you?
Seeing people enjoy the bakery and seeing the staff come together as friends. It just brings me a lot of joy.
What has surprised you most about opening a bakery?
It’s very, very hard work. You know, going into it, but you don’t know what that hard work is until you’re in it. There’s always a million details, relationships with people, and making sure we have everything.
How did you decide to start milling your own flour and what have you learned about flour in the process?
Bread can be extremely healthy, like a sourdough whole wheat bread that’s naturally fermented. It’s literally just a whole grain, water, and salt. Once I got into baking, I started learning about different people milling flour, which I found fascinating. In commercial whole-wheat flour, oftentimes it doesn’t have the germ in it, because it’s a fat and not shelf stable. So it will be just the endosperm and the bran. Sometimes they actually will make white flour and then mix the bran back in and sell it as wheat flour. I knew I wanted to mill if I had my own bakery and found these guys who were making mills in North Carolina. You get the full flavor experience, and we can experiment with different flavors by having access to different varieties of grain that aren’t found through commercial means.
Would you teach us a little bit about flour?
It’s basically just seeds that we’re grinding up. The Wheat Berry is a little kernel of wheat and when you grind it up, there are three parts. There’s the germ, which is the fatty part. It’s very nutrient dense; there’s a wheat germ oil. There’s the bran, which is the outer coating, also very nutrient dense and has a lot of vitamins and most of the fiber. And then the endosperm is the starch, like a pure white flour. When you eat white flour, you’re only getting one part and you’re missing out on the other nutrients. But, when you are fresh milling, you’re getting all three parts in the flour, so you get the full nutrients.
Has anybody asked to buy your flour?
We don’t want to put it on the shelves, but we do have some people who bake at home that get a few pounds regularly.
How have you incorporated produce from LNB Groves this season?
We’ve been using it for at least six months now. We use the avocados mainly in our quinoa salad. And your turmeric is in our dressing. It’s really good to have two of your products.
What’s your favorite thing on your menu?
I think it’s the basic whole-wheat sourdough, because it is so good. And, it’s the expression of what we’re doing with the mill.
How do you make a sourdough?
You can start it, by fermenting whole-wheat and water and just letting it naturally ferment. You want it to capture a good culture. You let that ferment and then keep adding flour and water and get it into a good rhythm. That is the yeast of the bread; that’s what makes it rise.
Where do you like to go out for food?
Ghee. I really enjoy Chef Niven’s food. And, Lincoln’s Beard Brewery.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
I think it’s like what you guys are doing. It’s what we can grow here and how special the tropical fruits are. It’s how different they are from what’s grown anywhere else. Maybe, not everyone fully takes it into account.
What is a worthy splurge?
Travel. I just took the time and went back to Alaska. It was really nice to get back there.
What’s a fun rainy-day activity?
Are there any philanthropic groups that are important to you that you might like to promote or share?
I’m not involved with anything, per se right now, but as a bakery we love to support. Many of our customers are involved in so many things, and we support as much as we can. We’ve had trouble finding a constant place to donate leftovers. We’ll always try to give it away some way.
Would you give us a quick pitch about Madruga Bakery?
I think Madruga is special because we’re doing something unique with our bread and baked goods and food. We’re trying to make them really good quality and really approachable. At the same time, we have tried to make it community focused and welcoming. It’s about the connections we make with people and creating a community.
Is there a question you would like to ask us?
(NH) What inspires you guys and keeps you going?
(A+W) People trying fruit for the first time. People meeting and making friends at our market stand. Teaching what we’re learning. And, being at the market every week. It is the most fun day ever.
Is there a question or challenge that you would like to pose to the community?
Explore what is going on right here and being produced by locals. There is a lot to offer, and often people don’t see it.
What’s next for Madruga?
I don’t want to expand. It’s about making it better, sourcing better ingredients, playing around with different wheats and elevating what we’re doing already.