The Role of Bread In An Elevated Dining Experience

Ahh, bread.

As a guest in a fine dining restaurant, either you love it or... you don’t understand it!

Has anyone ever advised to not eat too much bread, because it can ruin your appetite? Or, maybe you had that one friend who would refrain from eating the warm doughy loaf in hopes of maintaining or improve their figure. These mixed attitudes towards bread have left the ancient food with a negative reputation.

To restore that reputation, the rise of the "bread program” movement highlights the significant role of bread in an elevated dining experience.

“It’s incredibly important,” said Chef Marc Forgione, whose restaurant serves an elevated version of the classic potato roll, brushed with clarified butter, sprinkled with black salt and served with a side of caramelized onion butter. “It’s the first bite you have at the restaurant, so it’s the first impression you’re getting of our food and the experience.”

Traditionally, bread has always been part of fine dining (usually, at no extra cost.) But, when a bread program really shines, it’s because it offers something unique or of the best quality.

Bringing the best product forward to each guest takes extra time, effort and money. Some restaurants achieve this by producing fresh, house-made bread daily, while others, leave the job to local artisans who have mastered the craft and only worry about the logistics of getting the quality loaf to the patrons' table.

In some cases, restaurants may do a combination of both depending on their menu offerings.

This is the case for Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink (MGFD,) the flagship restaurant of James Beard award-winning chef and owner Michael Schwartz.

“We know that somebody else has better resources who does it to perfection. We like to promote those people, because they are doing something special,” says MGFD’s Pastry Chef Maria Garcia, referring to Miami-based artisans from Zak the Baker, La Parisienne Bakery and True Loaf that provide bread for the bread course and some sandwiches on the menu at Michael’s Genuine.

Avocado Toast with spicy crab, cilantro, lime, Zak's Rye #thisismgfd #mgfdbrunch

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Oof that's lunch. #mgfdlunch #pastramisandwich #falafel #mezze @zakthebaker 💗

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A lot of thought and effort goes into ensuring the best quality breads make it to guests’ tables, therefore the bread course at MGFD is offered for an extra charge.

“A lot of restaurants with our style of cooking are doing this nowadays, because in all honesty, it’s so much better to bring something that is actually really special that people can get excited about, and granted, yes, you have to pay, but it is so worth it,” said Chef Garcia, who attributes her love for bread to her family from Spain and her respect for its role in an elevated dining experience to Chef Michael Schwartz and Chef Bradley Heron.

“I think Schwartz and Brad have a really good philosophy and they have managed to teach it to all of us, so we can appreciate the good things,” added Chef Garcia.

Not only is Garcia in charge of confections as Michael Genuine’s pastry chef, but she also oversees the production house-made breads for MGFD and their sister restaurant cafe, Ella. These include: focaccia, pizza dough, pita bread, donuts, buns and bagels.

Her day begins at 6 a.m. at a commissary kitchen, where she spends the first three hours of her day.  An everyday task in the day-to-day prep list, is assuring the dough being fermented in bulk, is done so appropriately.

Soppressata Pizza 🍕🍕 crushed tomato, chile flake, honey, mozzarella #mgfdpizza #mgfdlunch

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#eggsandwich with grilled bacon & cheddar on a brioche #mgfdbrunch #michaelsgenuine #miamidesigndistrict #baconandeggs #sundaybrunch

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🍩🍩 cookies & cream donut #sobewff #thisismgfd #brunch #donutlovers 😍

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“The quality of your bread will rely on how well you ferment things and how they behave. So, we bulk ferment so the dough can develop a lot more flavors, so the alcohol doesn’t have that yeasty flavor. We like to give time for it to slow down and give time for the bacteria to grow, so it allows the bread to slowly ferment,” said Chef Garcia, who considers bread-making both an art and a science.

“It’s understanding the elements, their behavior and qualities as well as the artistic beauty of good bread.”

Foodable Labs ranked the following restaurants no. 1 in their respective cities when it came down to sentiment scores towards bread.

  • Portland - Le Pigeon
  • Miami - Michael's Genuine
  • New York - Marc Forgione
  • Denver - Work & Class
  • Chicago - Monteverde
  • Los Angeles - Animal

Watch the video to learn about other restaurants doing in-house bread!

Work & Class: In a Denver Shipping Container, Latin-American Flavors Flourish

Work & Class: In a Denver Shipping Container, Latin-American Flavors Flourish

Work & Class, located in Denver’s River North (RiNo) neighborhood on Larimer Street, is packaged differently than most concepts we’ve seen on “Table 42” thus far. For one, the Latin-American casual restaurant is adamant about “good food, no fuss,” and includes no bells and whistles. Its to-the-point nature is one of the first things you’ll notice on its website: “quality food, no fuss, no reservations, open at 4 p.m., closed Mondays.”

The Space

Another unique feature about Work & Class is its real estate — the restaurant is housed in a shipping container, which was part preparation and part luck, says Delores Tronco, co-owner and “buck stopper.” Tronco, along with fellow co-owners Dana Rodriguez and Tony Maciag, knew that River North was the neighborhood they wanted to be in. They found out about the shipping container project through another friend and local restaurateur while having dinner at his restaurant.

“We were in his place having dinner one night and he said, ‘Actually, I know about this shipping container project,’” says Tronco. “And so the next day, I was at work at another restaurant, I was in the back office, I saw my phone started to ring, and it was the developer and he said, ‘Delores, I hear you’ve got a concept and you’re a great operator; pitch it.’ And I walked out the back door of that other job, pitched my concept, and about a month later, we were signing the lease.”

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[VIDEO] Sneak Peek: Work & Class Keeps it Real in Denver

In a world of hype-driven, “cool factor” restaurants, Work & Class in Denver is refreshingly humble. Its cool factor lies in its approachability and its unique real estate.

“We’re using reclaimed, repurposed materials for our buildout,” says Delores Tronco, co-owner at Work & Class, who voluntarily waits tables on Saturday nights to connect more directly to guests. “It’s very easy to say to someone, ‘Look for the building made of shipping containers; that’s where you’ll find us.’”

Work & Class, which focuses on Latin and American food, includes 12 house rules, and “Be Nice” is No. 1. The restaurant also doesn’t take reservations. “You can leave everything else behind,” says Tronco. “Because we’re gonna take care of it while you’re here. It’s like you’re in a great house party or something.”

Sneak Peek: Work & Class Keeps It Real in Denver

In a world of hype-driven, “cool factor” restaurants, Work & Class in Denver is refreshingly humble. Its cool factor lies in its approachability and its unique real estate.

“We’re using reclaimed, repurposed materials for our buildout,” says Delores Tronco, co-owner at Work & Class, who voluntarily waits tables on Saturday nights to connect more directly to guests. “It’s very easy to say to someone, ‘Look for the building made of shipping containers; that’s where you’ll find us.’”

Work & Class, which focuses on Latin and American food, includes 12 house rules, and “Be Nice” is No. 1. The restaurant also doesn’t take reservations. “You can leave everything else behind,” says Tronco. “Because we’re gonna take care of it while you’re here. It’s like you’re in a great house party or something.”

Check out the sneak peek above, and stay tuned for our full “Table 42” episode, coming soon!

Foodable Reveals Five Star Awards, Celebrating Industry's Best

Foodable Reveals Five Star Awards, Celebrating Industry's Best

In the restaurant industry, accreditation is a powerful way to separate the who’s who: which chefs are worth the hype and which ones fall flat. It also brings to light which more obscure establishments are beaming with talent. In the past five years alone, restaurant reviews have changed significantly, with consumers in the driver’s seat, typing away their opinions on platforms like Yelp. There are few institutions, however, that take restaurant reviewing to a more serious level, where a rigid set of guidelines must be met in order to grant the restaurant any published review at all. Michelin is most notably one of them. But what if you took the same type of principles as the Michelin Guide — where a score is based on consistent factors across the board for each restaurant — and brought that into the land of social media, where the analysis of consumer sentiment, engagement and influence in relation to a restaurant determines the ultimate score of achievement?

Enter the Foodable Five Star Awards.

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