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Early Risers: A Bread-baking Pair on Making Dough and Raising a Son 

click to enlarge Parents: Andrew Heyn, 41, and Blair Marvin, 36, co-owners of Elmore Mountain Bread - Son: Phineas, 5 - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • jeb wallace-brodeur
  • Parents: Andrew Heyn, 41, and Blair Marvin, 36, co-owners of Elmore Mountain Bread
    Son: Phineas, 5

For Blair Marvin and Andrew Heyn, baking bread is a lifestyle. Six days a week, the founders of Wolcott-based Elmore Mountain Bread turn out crusty loaves from the brick-oven bakery attached to their charming, two-bedroom home, which they share with their kindergarten-age son, Phineas. Heyn built a mill on their property, where they grind their own wheat.

In addition, Marvin also recently became co-owner of Fire Tower Pizza, which operates out of the Elmore Store. And Heyn runs the mill-building operation New American Stone Mills as part of the couple's efforts to rebuild the local grain economy.

Marvin and Heyn have purposely kept their business small — their deliveries span a 50-mile radius — to preserve the hands-on work they love so much and to spend more time with their son. Having one child also allows them the freedom to pursue passions outside of work, like traveling. Marvin is also quick to point out that they wouldn't be able to maintain their rigorous work schedule without the help of her parents, who live in nearby Johnson and regularly care for Phineas.

On the (early) morning routine:

Blair: Monday, Wednesday and Friday are our baking and delivery days. Andrew and I both get up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. We head into the bakery and have certain tasks we get done, hopefully before Phineas wakes up. He has an alarm set for 6 a.m. He comes right downstairs, and he does this hilarious thing: He has a little handle on the bakery door, and he tries to scare us. He always comes up with a new way of announcing himself to us in the mornings, which is both adorable and terrifying at the same time!

Andrew: Blair is very jumpy.

Blair: Yes, and Phineas has picked up on that. Our two bakers arrive at 6 a.m. also, so everyone is here then. At that point, Andrew tags out of the bakery and gets Phineas ready for school and takes him up to the bus. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday are my mornings with Phineas and Andrew is in the bakery super early. So we each have our time with him before school. It's a very nice split.

On afternoon dad duty:

Blair: We have a very clear division of labor and roles in our job, and that's how we've always made it function. But it's funny, with Phineas in there, that's the one place where it's like a wild card. Especially with him being in his first year of school, we are still trying to work it out. Because of New American Stone Mills — our other business building the mills — and having our full-time head baker here, Andrew is free to be home in the afternoons, so he's always here to get Phineas off the school bus, which is a luxury that we didn't have before because we both did deliveries. I don't get home from deliveries until around 5 p.m., but Andrew is always here.

On dinner plans — or lack thereof:

Blair: We still struggle with the dinner thing because we're like, Oh, God, it's six o'clock and Phineas is still playing and I am just rolling in from deliveries, and we're like, What are we going to do? Last night we went to Lost Nation Brewing in Morristown. We probably do that a little more than we should. Our whole world is good, healthy food and supporting our local food economy, so that allows us to support our fellow food producers, too.

On working and living together:

Andrew: [In bread making,] there's the mixing and then there's the baking, and in between is the shaping. The mixing is much more scientific and chemistry-based, and there's a lot of math and scaling it out...

Blair: Not my strong point!

Andrew: Which is my strong point, so it made more sense that I would do that. And the baking part is a lot more of the aesthetic skill and making the bread, and that suits Blair much better.

Blair: We have this quote on the wall in the bakery that says: "Art without science is nothing," and that rang true to us because it kind of spoke to what allowed our partnership in the bakery, what facilitated our success with working with one another. We have these two different strengths, and, by allowing each of us to focus in on the parts we enjoyed in that division of labor, it's made it into a very smooth and orderly system. That balance has allowed us to function very happily over many years.

On scheduling bread and bed:

Andrew: After we eat dinner there is not much to do in the bakery, maybe 10 or 15 minutes of stuff, so we are generally free to hang out in the evening and put Phineas to bed.

Blair: Baking bread has a very strict schedule — it has no flexibility — so our life is based on this regimen around feeding the starters, building the fire. Everything is timed. Getting to the stores and restaurants at a certain time, that is the environment Phineas has grown up in, so he's very receptive to that. Sometimes I'm like, Am I creating a monster here? He's good with following the schedule, and he will say, "Uh, it's seven o'clock. I'm tired. It's time for me to go take my bath." We eat dinner together and do the bedtime routine together. He gets two books; Andrew reads one, and I read the other. It's important to have that focused time every day, just the three of us. It's grounding for us all.


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