Best Bread - 2004
Foccacia, levain, ciabatta, ficelle -- ten years ago who knew those terms had to do with bread? Where once we were happy to find a baguette in a gourmet food shop, we now can pick up a loaf of pain rustique at Schnucks, for crying out loud. But while a few of those parbaked breads shipped frozen from factories and finished at the grocery store may have the texture of artisanal bread, many are as flavorful as a sponge. There are a lot of very good bread bakers in St. Louis, and they should all be supported. That said, this year's award goes to Breadsmith. Yes, they're part of a chain. But the St. Louis franchise is locally owned and operated, and the parent company is intent upon putting the artisan back into artisanal bread. Breadsmith breads are baked each morning and sold at the store (which features a small café section) and shipped to about 30 restaurants and grocery stores. Commendably, unsold bread is donated to homeless shelters and food banks.