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Baker In Focus
42 Pastry & Baking North America
Milwaukee newspaper interview, food show host Andrew
Zimmern mentioned he eats Red Truck Bakery granola and
called it “the best granola in North America” – you can’t
imagine how many orders for granola that brought us. Actor
Robert Duvall and his wife live nearby and are regulars here;
they designed a gift box of our breakfast items to ship to their
family and Hollywood pals; we now offer “Bobby’s Breakfast-
in-a-Box” on our website and donate ten bucks of each
purchase to his charity for children.
With a growing retail and online business, is there
anything baking related that you miss from working
on a smaller scale? 
That’s exactly my point. I don’t want the bakery to get too
big that we’d miss out on the fun smaller stuff. I love chatting
with the regulars out front, gathered around our communal
dining table. Some new item ideas come from the customers
and the experimenting Kevin and I do with that is enjoyable;
Kevin’s up for anything new and gets excited when these bake
up well and taste good—he’s a crazy-good innovator. I don’t
want to be running a wholesale or online business out of a
huge windowless warehouse out near Dulles Airport, as some
prospective investors have suggested. I still want to be the
local shopkeeper out front in an apron sweeping the sidewalk
or washing the truck. And I think both our walk-in and
online business has grown for that reason: customers want
interesting quality items handmade by three bakers in a sweet
old farming town. 
As a baker who has embraced a traditional “artisan”
approach, how do you strive to maintain consistency
and keep your customers satisfied with your
products?  Discuss your approach to sustainability
vis a vis your bakery, staff, customers and the local
farmers. How are they interwoven? 
It’s more the “local” word than the “artisan” word that keeps
our customers coming back. They know our eggs come from
farmers just up the road, not trucked in by Sysco. The yolks
are deep orange, not a pale
yellow like supermarket eggs, and
we use them in all of our baking.
Our chicken salad comes from
area poultry that we roast here
at the bakery; Kevin shreds it by
hand and mixes it with fruit and
nuts and we serve it on our own
bread. I’m the pie guy here: I love
making pies using only fresh,
local seasonal ingredients, and
our customers wait somewhat
impatiently for our berry pies
in June, cherry pies in July, and
peach pies through Labor Day.
They like eating seasonal and
they get it: food tastes better
when it’s just off the tree or from
a nearby farm. 
With a thriving online
business, what are the
challenges in shipping perishable food?
We try to ship everything UPS Ground; anything else gets
awfully expensive to ship and I don’t want a customer paying
$44 to overnight a $24 pie. Given that, we’ve formulated
everything offered online so that it gets to the West Coast
still fresh and moist. Our booze cakes are popular; we ship
hundreds of moonshine, bourbon and rum cakes and
the alcohol keeps them fresh for two weeks; using some
canola oil in addition to butter helps, too.
The New York
mentioned our quiche so everybody wanted one. But
shipping an egg-custard product in warm months or in
uncontrollable situations creates safety problems; since we
don’t know if the frozen quiche, with an ice pak, will be sitting
for an afternoon on a sun-beaten doorstep, I took them off the
Garden & Gun
magazine honored our sweet potato
pecan pie as their Made-in-the South Award food runner-up;
I then put that pie on the website but found out that its less-
than-firm consistency suffered if the UPS guy threw the box
around. I worked with UPS to come up with packaging for
shipping a frozen pie via Second-Day Air and we haven’t had
any problems since. Online customers request other more-
fragile items, such as our fresh peach pie, but I won’t ship
anything that might not arrive in top shape. 
Quality of ingredients is an overriding concern at
the Red Truck Bakery. How do you go about sourcing
your ingredients? 
Being in the middle of fertile farmland helps. We have two
good area food magazines,
Edible Blue Ridge
, and
both are huge supporters of the local food movement and
have been successful at partnering us with great purveyors.
Just as good is the Piedmont Environmental Council and
their “Buy Fresh Buy Local Program” which puts farmer-
suppliers and kitchen-acquirers together. And, because of
the number of farmers around (and these are often young
families moving out of DC to launch a rural food business),
we have people knocking on our door with eggs, produce
and more. I’ve got a refrigerator full of wild ramps fromWest