The Bread Revivalist
Owner of Bellegarde Bakery | New Orleans, Louisiana
Most people associate New Orleans bread with the long French bread loaves perfect for a po’ boy; Graison Gill of Bellegarde Bakery would like them to look deeper—all the way back to the dawn of New Orleans. In the early 1700s, dark-crusted, earthy loaves of bread, hearth-baked and hand-milled from local grains, were the order of the day. The secret to this Old World-style bread lies in baking with the regional ingredients, the same materials that were on hand 300 years ago.
Graison is a fanatic for using local resources, whether its salt mined from nearby Avery Island or heirloom wheat grown in-state. The latter ingredient has proven to be a unique obstacle. Louisiana’s agriculture is dominated by commercial cash crops, and investing in better-quality wheat requires more support than one artisan bakery can give. Graison hopes to jumpstart change with a two-pronged agenda, focusing on bettering education and research—in the form of a partnership with Louisiana State University’s agricultural school—and facilitating greater government aid toward farming heirloom grains. It’s a long road ahead, but as is the case with most other crusaders, Graison’s dogged obsession is our gain.