Cafe Society

Steve Scott, owner-baker of Babettes: "Force your local bakeries to go above and beyond"

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What's your fantasy splurge? A trip to Paris to witness the source of tradition. Baker Christophe Vasseur and Poilâne, in Paris, are both setting the bar so high in terms of tradition and respect for the old ways that being able to stand in their shops would be a defining moment in my life and career as a baker.

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? A breadboard with our Babettes logo that my wife gave to me.

What's always lurking in your pantry? Jam and honey, although it all disappears quite quickly.

What piece of advice would you give to a young baker? Do your homework, make sure baking is what you want to be doing, and express your passion for great bread.

What's the one thing that keeps you up at night? The excitement of being able to do it again the next day.

What's your biggest pet peeve? The word "perfection." As a baker, I don't want to reach perfection every day. Instead, we strive for the perfect loaf done in an imperfect way, loaves that look like they come from nature. I don't want people to tell me that they're eating a perfect loaf of bread; I want people to enjoy it for its imperfections.

Your best traits: My dedication to the craft, the fact that I'm a loving husband and really like to do the dishes, and that I care about each and every customer who walks through our door. I'm a good mentor, too.

Your worst traits: Striving for perfection. I want that Holy Grail loaf of bread every day, and it's the happiness and the frustration of striving for that perfect loaf that keeps me going. There's a damn good chance that out of 200 loaves, I'm only going to get one that looks the way it should. I'm my worst critic, and I critique my bread to death.

What's been your worst baking disaster? I once had to throw away 1,700 pounds of ciabatta dough. The bread baker where I was working -- I won't say the name of the place -- decided to dump the flour on top of the water and then go off to lunch, and when starches swell, they clump, and if you don't mix them, they'll turn into balls of dough that won't mix out.

Craziest moment in the kitchen: The opening day of Babettes. I was nervous as hell and waiting for disaster at every turn. But in the end, I found that Denver was waiting a long time for this kind of baking. Ah, relief.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson