Here at Roostar one of the best things to happen this year was finally having the opportunity to meet up and work with Heath Wendell and Michael Pellegrino from Slow Dough Bread Co..
Years of searching for the minds behind the phenomenal burger buns of Buff Burger and Bernie’s Burger Bus paid off by bringing me to Slow Dough’s booth at the annual Texas Restaurant Association show this year.
I was ecstatic to see them there and my fiancée Linda and I introduced ourselves, had a chat and wound up with an invite to the Slow Dough premises the following week.
The trip to the bakery was quite an experience in itself as we found ourselves at a huge 35,000sq.ft building with no signage! A quick call to Michael confirmed we were at the right place and upon entering were greeted by Michael and taken to another room to meet Heath where we sat around a 6ft long baker’s table doubling as a conference table.
Michael Pellegrino was the chef-mastermind behind Max’s Wine Dive run by Houston-based Lasco Enterprises for eight years and won many awards in local events and competitions. He has since taken up a new position as Director of Culinary Relations with the Slow Dough Bread Co.
Heath Wendell is a fifth-generation baker steeped in the traditions of his German-immigrant Chicago-based family who lives and breathes bread making. He and his partner, Marlo Evans, started a bakery with just the two of them working for themselves taking samples door to door around local eateries.
Today this same company now employs 68 staff and has accounts with 325 restaurants in Houston and almost two dozen in Austin. They have also secured huge accounts with Whole Foods Market, Perry’s Steak House, Ben E. Keith and Carrabba’s among others.
So why do they still have a passion for catering to chef-driven, local restaurants and Mom and Pop places such as Buff Burger, Local Foods, Roostar and so on?
It’s all about the passion. Sure, the big national chains will always have an economic advantage, but Slow Dough Bread Co. is driven by the desire to be the best, a pride, not just in a trade, but in craftsmanship and being an artisan not just a baker. It’s in their DNA. It’s artistry, love for the product and a relentless drive to keep improving.
Heath shares a memory with me about meetings with the corporate players in the business where, invariably, price took priority over product, but when he meets with local operators the product takes pride of place and only then would price be discussed. There’s a difference. Priority is given to producing the best possible products, a matter of principle and a philosophy shared by Roostar.
We at Roostar worked incredibly closely with Michael and Heath over the weeks and months to create a product which we believe can win over our guests. The result is a bread of the purest golden-brown color with a deliciously crispy crust, cream-colored center, satisfyingly complex aroma and a delightfully fleshy texture when chewed. The requisite slash across the top entices out the air that is locked in the light and fluffy interior. When this amazing creation is torn open you are immediately aware of the subtle yet complex aromas rising up to greet you. One taste and you’re hooked on the sumptuous texture and perfect balance of flavors.
We all know that the longer a dough takes to rise (hence the name Slow Dough) and the less artificial ingredients used the better and tastier it will be. For this reason Slow Dough Bread Co. uses no artificial ingredients and the result of this is a dining room filled with satisfied, happy guests. Even the most discerning palette can’t fail to be won over by this peerless product.
I am profoundly grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside Heath, Michael, Thomas, Sasha, Renee and everyone at Slow Dough. All of us at Roostar sincerely appreciate the chance we have been given to learn so much about bread making and have a deep respect for the craftsmanship behind these superb products.
We look forward to continued growth and a long and fruitful relationship with Slow Dough.