At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, my dear friend Ajith from Fire Within Mobil Wood Fire Ovens introduced me to my favorite author and bread guru Peter Reinhert. I was honored to be able to spend a quiet evening in a private dinner with him and just a few close friends talking about bread and life and even more surprised to receive an invitation to attend the International Symposium on Bread this week in North Carolina (only 60 people from around the world get to attend)! It was quite unexpected and a huge honor! This auditorium was soon filled with all the bright beautiful minds of yeast and flour!
When I arrived I was blessed with a private tour of Johnson and Wales from Peter himself!
I can't really put into words what a blessing it was to learn from some of the most brilliant mind in the world of bread!
But I can say it was epic! I followed this guy around like a puppy...
I took the course on sprouted grain breads working with chef Richard Miscovich for 3 days in hands-on workshops. We made rye bread with sprouted grain flours. Chef Richard is on the board of directors for the Bread Baker's Guild, and a seasoned instructor at Jonson and Wales University in North Carolina as well as an Author. His instruction is world class.
There was a lot of science involved...and he was pretty intense about it!
Not unlike the sprouted grains we've discussed often here on the blog...but a lot more detail!
We even used sprouted chia seed!
I loved seeing other students from around the world asking questions about the sprouting process and hearing the responses as well.
Richard was an incredible instructor.
We also got to have pizza from Fire Within. This is Ajith. He's amazing. I've come to respect him greatly from working closely with him in Denver. He truly has a heart of gold!
We worked on fermentation method using four different dough and it was interesting to see the results.
We also saw the distinct differences in the dough of the structures.
The process was cool to participate in as well...
Artisan dough turning...
Overall, this was one of my top baking experiences, bar none! I feel like I learned so much in a short amount of time and I can't put into words what it felt like to be there. I'm so appreciative for the experience. Thank you Peter and to all who made this experience possible!
2 years ago at my first Home Baking Association meeting, the Co-founders and directors of the National Festival of Breads from Manhattan, Kansas asked me to be a judge at the 2019 festival. It seemed like a long time away...but it sure came fast! This was my first trip to Kansas and I have never felt more loved and welcomed into a community!
I arrived a few days early to get ready for my demonstrations and I got a glimpse at all the preparations that happen. I can tell you, it was really remarkable! I worked really hard to be ready, but also had so much fun.
One of the best parts was that my mom and dad were there...way ahead of time. Ha ha!
The co-founders and directors Cindy Faulk and Julene Derouchey are two of the the most outstanding women ever. It was truly an honor to work with them!
Apparently my parents liked it there too...
Part of the trip included a visit to the wheat fields of Kansas and the working farms in the area.
My dad loved looking at all the farm equipment and getting a first hand view of the growing techniques. So did I!
We also got to see the Kansas Wheat Commission's Innovation Center at Kansas State. The greenhouse was growing heirloom wheat varieties from all over the world and I was in grain geek heaven!
The labs are state-of-the-art!
So is the Wheat Genetic Genomic Resources Center Gene Bank!
The greenhouse tests and grows thousands of varieties and keeps the seeds viable.
It was phenomenal to see the process in person!
It was also remarkable to see the actual testing of the genetics!
Look how tall some of these wheat varieties are!
The wheat variety seed vault was awesome!
Then it was back to the festival for more dough prep and getting ready for the big event.
My view from the stage was pretty epic!
The winners were great!
I will never forget this experience!
Thank you so much National Festival of Breads for having me as a judge and for allowing me to demonstrate my breads. It was an amazing honor!