Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bakery Breadheads at Pazzo: "Daylight! Another day begins!"

On Friday, for the first time in my life I showed up somewhere at 6:30 am and felt like I was late.

That's because Master Pastry Chef John Bex and his team at The Bakery At Pazzo had already been working for hours by the time I turned up to receive an early morning lesson in breadmaking from one of the best.

Chef John Bex is well known as the Master Pastry Chef instructor at the Stratford Chefs School, where he's been teaching students the art and science of baking for over twenty years.

This summer Chef Bex took on the baking duties for Pazzo Pizzeria (downstairs) and fine dining Ristorante (upstairs) when they were all moved next door to Pazzo's brand new Ontario Street bakery. The bakery also supplies restaurants like Bijou, Down the Street and The Annex with the best bread around. And the house-made bread, pastries, sandwiches and desserts are all available to the public via the store, located right in front of the open-concept baking space. 

I found out that the secret to having Stratford's best bread is to do almost everything by hand and with a lot of care - no wonder one of the bakers had been there since midnight! I recognized this committed denizen of the graveyard shift as a recent Stratford Chefs School grad named Simon Briggs who'd cooked a Mexican dinner alongside Pilar Cabrera Arroyo I had the pleasure of attending this past winter. Simon and current Chefs School student M.J. were dusty with flour by the time I arrived. Chef Bex introduced them with a term I had not heard before, used to describe those who answer the call to work in a bakery:


He then proceeded to guide me through the process of making the small and large loaves of focaccia bread they make at the bakery every day. [The experience of "playing the piano" on the focaccia dough kind of reminded me of the time I learned how to make bannock bread in Nunavut]:

While we waited for the focaccia to bake Chef treated me to breakfast with one of The Bakery's absolutely incredible croissants. Fluffy on the inside but nice and crusty on the outside, like the perfect croissant should be. Chef described how he made them every day by hand-rolling pounds of butter into some dough: "It's butter suspended in flour". 

The foccacia loaves I helped to make were dimpled (from all the piano playing), perfectly browned and both seasoned and textured with salt when they came out of the oven:

The store opens at 8 am sharp, and the moment the door was unlocked three people immediately arrived to get a coffee and a fresh baked pastry.

The pre-office coffee crowd has some great choices for breakfast, including the aforementioned croissants (they also make them with double smoked bacon & mozzarella!?!)  muffins, scones and gorgeous Brioche with Basil Oil, Fennel, and Roasted Red Pepper (above).

At lunch The Bakery has been setting folks up with picnics to take along the river - a great idea for people who want to catch Stratford Summer Music events such as the riverside Barge Music performances, which take place only steps away.

And to top it all off The Bakery also stocks their shelves with some of the best ingredients from around the world... I told the manager, my friend Alondra Galvez (also am alum/instructor from the Statford Chefs School), my story about Oleara San Giorgio, the beautiful olive oil that connected me to my unknown cousin last year - The Bakery has it!

The Bakery at Pazzo is a phenomenal place to grab a bite to eat or a loaf of bread to take home. The entire operation is run by Stratford Chefs School instructors, alumni and students (it will be the site of Chef John Bex's SCS pastry lessons this winter), and the Chefs' attention to careful preparation, handmade techniques, and the alchemy that is baking really shines through in everything they create.


  1. I heart Bakery at Pazzo. Can't wait to try a picnic. Thanks L.C.L!!!!!

  2. Okay, so the brioche with double smoked bacon, etc.? Yeah, I want one of those. Looking forward to picnicing too!

  3. Thanks for the comments NOURISH and Laurie!
    Holy you folks are early risers too! Perfect bakery customers.
    I'm also looking forward to trying a picnic...