Welcome back to Up-and-Comers, a monthly column from Megan Hill dedicated to the rising stars of Seattle's food and drink scene.
Josh Grunig moved to Seattle from San Francisco to work as the production manager for Grand Central Bakery. "After working there, I realized I want to do something a little bit more rustic in small scale," he says.
Grunig first launched his Saturday morning pop-up Pocket Bakery in the children's clothing and gift shop Magpie last August. Central District residents gave him a warm reception, and Grunig sells out of many items consistently. The pop-up is allowing him to test the waters for an eventual brick-and-mortar bakery, to be called Standard Baking. Grunig's goal is to open in the neighborhood later this year with breakfast, lunch, and of course, plenty of baked goods.
How did you get started baking?
It was really important to my mom that she make us dinner every night and that we didn't eat junk. On top of that, she's just a really great home baker. Just from that experience growing up, it's been really important to me to make stuff from scratch and with a lot of care. When I got out of high school, I was living in San Francisco, which is where I grew up. I found out about The San Francisco Baking Institute and applied.
The first day, we started with the most simple bread, which is a baguette. I just got completely seduced.
When did you decide to strike out on your own?
When my wife and I had our baby, I decided to stay home with her. My wife went back to work and I've been working on getting a bakery open. I was thinking about opening a bakery with the help of Kickstarter, but good friend of mine said, "You should do a pop-up bakery for a while to build your name up."
So why the Central District?
I really, really like the Central District. It's a really underserved area for food and there's so much opportunity. I am flabbergasted that there isn't more stuff happening. The partnership with Magpie is so perfect for us because I want to connect with the families in the neighborhood.
It's been great to get the feedback from the neighborhood. Usually, it's just myself and my wife who are reworking these ideas with new recipes. I really trust her opinion but doing a pop-up gives me the opportunity to have these dialogues with people.
I love that because it's very constructive for me and I also get people to feel like they have a stake and they have a say in a place.
Do you source your ingredients locally and regionally?
The primary ingredient for the bakery, obviously, would be the flour. We use all organic flour and we're trying to find a source in Washington for a bread flour. It's difficult to find. But there are other wheat varietals that you can use for pastry and they grow very well in Washington. We're working really hard to find some small producers to make wheat for us.
What are you making right now that you're most excited about?
My experience is in bread, so the sourdough is my pride and joy. But I have to say the chocolate chip cookies are something I'm super excited about. I've been working on this cookie for six months and I finally got it to a place that I feel pretty happy about. I don't know if I will ever get 100 percent where I'm like, "Yeah. I don't have to mess with this anymore." It's definitely at a place where I'm enjoying eating it. Not that I didn't enjoy it before, but it's getting out-of-bounds good.
Pocket Bakery at Magpie. 2002 E. Union Street. Facebook page.