As head baker at King Arthur Flour, Martin Phillip makes hundreds of loaves of bread a week. But just over a decade ago, Martin was working in the frenzied world of investment banking in New York City. Virginia and producer Hannah McCarthy visited Martin to get the story behind his rise to head baker.
Listen to the full story to hear more about Virginia’s time spent in the kitchen with Martin.
Martin says back when he and his wife first moved up from New York City, he couldn’t shape a baguette to save his life. So how did he become head baker? A lot of hours, a lot of focus... and plenty of yeast. Martin went all in, eventually making the US team in the prestigious Golden Cup international baking competition.
He then decided to shoot for the Coupe du Monde de Boulangerie, otherwise known as the baking Olympics. That meant years of training in traditional artisanal breads and developing original recipes that reflected his heritage. In the end, Martin didn’t make the American team for the competition. But, he says, it was all worth it because the experience brought him back to his roots.
Martin started weaving sassafras root, molasses, and pecans into his creations, the flavors from his childhood and his grandma’s recipe cards. Growing up in the shadow of the Ozark Mountains in a family that valued making things by hand, something he didn’t appreciate at the time.
Now Martin is passing the love of creative work along to his now three kids who stage cupcake wars in the family’s decidedly unfancy kitchen.
Martin will be sharing life stories and playing the banjo at the Capital Center for the Arts Salon Series this Saturday, May 20 at 7:30pm. You can learn more about his book, Breaking Bread: A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes.