April Hamilton | Aprilskitchencounter@gmail.com
February 20, 2019
Bellegarde Bakery, the New Orleans bread bakery famous for its fresh milled flour and naturally leavened loaves, now sells its flours and grits in an online retail store. The bakery began as a pop-up at farmer’s markets in 2013, with owner Graison Gill managing all operations including delivery in an old pick up truck. “We now have a staff of 17 and three delivery vans, and are shipping our flour across the country,” Gill said. With visitors to the website and online store coming from all 50 states, Bellegarde’s flour sales are up over 1,000% from the previous year.
All flours are not the same. Gill sources organic wheat, buckwheat, heirloom rye and corn directly from growers in hand to hand transactions. Each grain arrives with a distinct pedigree and exact mileage traveled from the field to the bakery’s door. The whole grains are stone milled, one pound in and one pound out, and bagged with a milled-on date. All nutrients are intact, rather than stripped away. Each grower and consumer becomes part of the Bellegarde fabric.
“This is a live food, it’s perishable. It can be frozen if not consumed within one month. Our hottest seller is grits, heirloom corn grown by the same family since 1876 in Baldwin County, Alabama, that we grind in house. Our white wheat from Kansas has multi-functionality, perfect for pizza, pasta, and bread. You don’t need fancy stuff to make beautiful bread. There is an educational component of teaching people to work with it. We pack recipes with every flour shipment and there’s a huge demand for the classes in our bakery." --Graison Gill
James Beard Award winning chef Nina Compton, owner of Compere Lapin and Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans, is a Bellegarde devotee. She uses the heirloom cornmeal for the fried oysters in both restaurants, Kansas flour for the tuna toast and financier at Bywater American Bistro, and durum flour for pasta.
“The quality of the flour really makes a stand out dish! I love using the durum flour for any pasta. But my favorite is the buckwheat flour. We have made anything from sugar cookies as well as pasta that are just truly special. Not many use this flour but I encourage people to try it! Having Bellegarde products readily available will change the landscape of cooking for home and professional cooks. Graison has a special way of bridging the gap between the farmer and the chefs who are using it, telling them a very special story which many people are not doing."--Nina Compton
With their new online store, Bellegarde's commitment to reviving the integrity of bread and whole grains can now extend to bakers outside of Louisiana. Chefs in New Orleans have invested in the whir of this mill and the flavorful flour that spills from its stones since 2013. The reach is rising. One square at a time, Graison Gill is building a quilt which gets warmer with each hand that joins this growing community.
Read the full story here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/aprilhamilton/2019/02/20/bellegarde-bakerys-fresh-flour-is-just-a-click-away/#40b5f4696f31