First look: Babette's Artisan Breads rises at the Source

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Last week, when I interviewed Steve Redzikowski, chef and co-owner of Acorn, which just opened in the Source, he was fixated on a baguette, but not just any baguette: This particular baguette, he said, equated to the "best baguette in Colorado." He called it "phenomenal," and then followed up that sentiment with this: "Steve Scott is the best fucking baker of the century."

See also: First look: Acorn opens in the Source

Just a few storefronts down from Acorn stands Babette's Artisan Breads, the bakery that Redzikowski was extolling, the same bakery from where that baguette was baked by Scott, who opened his diminutive bread bakery on Wednesday, and it's no wonder his breads are revered as "phenomenal." The wafting scent -- that unmistakable bakery air -- is, by itself, enough to send you sailing into bread heaven.

Originally from Northern California, Scott, a former professional cyclist, took up cooking to make some extra cash, but he had an obsession with flour and water, so he pursued a career in pastry, attending Tante Marie's Cooking School in the heart of San Francisco, and it was there, he says, that an instructor shifted his focus from pastries to bread baking. "I had an instructor who was really into baking and artisan breads, and after his class, all I wanted to do was bake baguettes, croissants and rustic breads. Once we got to the wedding cake portion of the program, I was done. I knew what my path was," Scott declares.

He eventually made his way to Boulder, where he ran the bread department at Breadworks for three years -- and then he morphed back into pastry, doling out hundreds of dozens of pastries as the pastry chef at the University of Colorado, Boulder. But when a position for a production supervisor became available at Udi's Artisan Bakery, in Louisville, Scott jumped at the opportunity. "It's like a finishing school for bakers," says Scott. "Maurizio Negrini, Udi's baker, is one of the top five bakers in North America, and he just creates incredible products."

And so does Scott, who also revamped and rebuilt the bread program at the Mediterranean restaurant, in Boulder, which then led to a wholesale program -- and a fistful of Boulder clients, including Cured, a cheese, cured meat and wine shop. And Scott's bread, which Cured sells, caught the attention of Kyle and Andra Zeppelin, the brains behind the Source. "Kyle and Andra would came to Cured and they loved my bread, and Andra reached out to me and asked me come down to the building and check it out," recalls Scott.

It didn't take much prodding on the part of the Zepplins to convince Scott to take his dough to Denver. "I walked in here and it just felt good to me -- it felt like it made sense for me to be here, that it was a great project that I wanted to be involved in," says Scott, who's asked just about every day how -- and why -- his bread rises above. "I honestly think I've figured out how to make the moistest bread at altitude," he reveals. "It's a long fermentation technique and high hydration. We use a lot more water -- tap water, mind you -- than most other bakers, and it makes for very good bread."

But Scott stresses that it's the emotion behind the bread baking that makes all the difference. "I have so much passion and love for what I do, and I really give a shit about this, from start to finish. I hope that people can see it and taste it in everything I bake - that they know that the person baking their bread really cares," says Scott.

His breads, much like the movie Babette's Feast, whose premise resides on healing a village through food -- and, in part, is why Scott named his bakery Babette's (the other part can be attributed to Daniel Patterson, a chef who opened Babette's, a French restaurant, in Sonoma), are unbelievable labors of love (and art), with their crisp-edged, mahogany-hued crusts and soft, chewy interiors.

His products, made with fresh-milled flour, include everything from baguettes and bâtards studded with pumpkin seeds to brioche, chocolate-filled croissants and morning buns. And they're baked in a steam-injected French oven, which is bread-specific, says Scott -- and what emerges from the hearth are meticulous loaves that rival the best breads in France. "I bake traditional French breads in a non-traditional way, and if you take your time and think of it as a relaxing process, if you bake it well and have passion, it'll taste great," he promises. And one bite of his bread cements that promise.

I stopped by the bakery, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, earlier this week and photographed Scott's passion in action. Herewith the photos.

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