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Supplier Series: Breadbaron Sandwiches
When we decided that January was the perfect time to make breakfast-themed ice cream, one of our first thoughts was, "how do we incorporate local bacon?!". Luckily, the Kitchener-Waterloo community is blessed with the brilliant minds and taste buds of Mike Lurz and Nick Hatten of Breadbaron Sandwiches!
Breadbaron cures a beautiful local bacon that we use to make our Waffles & Bacon ice cream. We spoke with Mike to learn more about how they have become local legends and make some of the meanest sandwiches you'll ever have:
How did Breadbaron begin & how old are you now?
"Nick and I met at Stratford Chefs School in 2007 - we were roommates and classmates and got along very well. After graduation we worked together at a few restaurants in Stratford and then Toronto. Nick then moved to Vancouver and I to Freiburg, Germany but we always had joint entrepreneurship on our minds for the future. When we both moved back home, we set about making something happen and the Kitchener Market had an opening. We decided to move forward and Breadbaron was born. That was August of 2013 - we're approaching our five year anniversary this summer."
What do you like about the Kitchener Market & Downtown Kitchener community?
"Kitchener/Waterloo shares many of the benefits of a large city and a small one. We have growth, a couple of nice downtowns, and plenty of night-life and options for entertainment. We're on shipping routes and many musicians and artists come here on tour - big city. At the same time, K/W is small enough to encounter people you know on a frequent basis, have friendlier-than-average people, and has plenty of neighbouring park land and just generally space that isn't suburban sprawl (yet.) We love the Kitchener Market as a home mainly to source our food from the wonderful vendors and farmers which arrive on Saturday - but also because it reinforces our community values and has many events throughout the year."
What are some of your specialties/fan favourites?
"We change our menu fairly often, so we do hear from the fans/customers when we cycle a favourite away. Frankly, it's hard to choose, but knowing I can't please everybody with these choices, I will choose two:
Brown Butter Squash -
This sandwich is a nice combination of fresh and rich. We roast assorted squash in the oven, seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and salt. This gets pureed with goat cheese from River's Edge dairy. The puree is spread on toasted seven grain bread and then topped with lightly pickled carrot ribbons, sunflower sprouts, and brown butter.
Our take on a classic Reuben substitutes Dijon for Russian dressing and braised pulled brisket for sliced smoked meat. The brisket is cured for five days in a rub, which we haven't changed the recipe for since our first day since reception has been so positive. After curing, we sear and braise the brisket in water with plenty of aromatic vegetables. The resulting stock is strained, kept, and reduced so that we can re-warm the shredded, cooled brisket to order. We make a simple shredded cabbage slaw with caraway and apple cider vinegar, and all of this goes together in a healthy pile on light rye bread."
In a world full of sandwich slingers, what makes Breadbaron unique?
"Having attended a school that focuses more-than-average on food ethics, we are proud to operate with almost exclusively locally bought seasonal ingredients and very little food waste. We make all of our sauces and garnishes from raw products and house-cure all of our meats. We cut all of our French fries with a knife, not to be unnecessarily archaic, but because the fries are better. We spend downtime canning produce for the winter since we find amazing deals with our produce suppliers with which we share our building. I believe our traditional approach and technique/care towards selecting and preparing ingredients is a strong mark of honour for us."
What excites you about partnering with another small food biz like Four All Ice Cream?
"We love community and share many values mentioned above with Four All. Local small businesses working together provides an awesome synergy which benefits themselves and everybody in the community. Meeting the people you deal with face-to-face, swapping food tips, sampling product together improves both operations. We may steer some customers their way and vice-versa through word of mouth, and the customers are discovering unique locally-made products along the way. Nick and I have both worked as professional pastry chefs, and can vouch for Four All's product. We've had some ice cream samples. Can't complain about that kind of perk either!"
How do you make your bacon?
"We use Ontario pork belly to make our bacon - the bellies are cut into quarters and cured with a rub that uses juniper, pepper, bay and garlic as its primary aromas. The curing bellies are stored in bins in the fridge for seven days and flipped frequently to assure even curing. We then cook the bellies, skin side down on baking sheets in a low oven for approximately four to five hours, depending on size. We cool the finished bacon and remove the skin, then pack in vacuum bags for storage. Note we do not smoke our bacon for two reasons - to retain moisture in the finished bacon and also to make a more unique product."
If you could create any ice cream flavour using some of the stuff you make, what would it be?
"First of all, the oat bacon waffle ice cream is brilliant! So I guess that one's off the list. I think a brown butter and roasted squash ice cream would be delicious. We made a roasted beet and caramelized onion sandwich a while ago - I think the sugar and colour from those two might be a neat ice cream. Nick's dad has a farmyard and grows us vegetables yearly. This year we smoked a pile of home-grown hot peppers. Blitzing those up and putting them in ice cream would also be interesting and maybe delicious!"
You can visit Mike & Nick on the upper level at the Kitchener Market Tuesday-Friday 8am-3pm & Saturday 7am-2pm. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter to see what they're up to.