written by: Mary Brown Malouf photo by: Adam Finkle
My mother used to say to us, “When you’re mad, make bread.”
The physical activity of beating and kneading flour, water and yeast is as intimate as cooking gets. In the hours of working with the dough, letting it rise, punching it down and shaping it, the baker forms a relationship with it. Seeing that work grow into a healthy loaf is a triumph of emotion and skill.
Baking is an ancient metaphor, and the new Flourish Bakery is making the most of the metaphor and the craft.
Flourish Bakery is an enterprise of the Utah-based nonprofit Unshackled, founded to teach life and job skills to recovering addicts and prisoners. So far, Unshackled has done that, through prison-based culinary, horticultural and counseling programs. Flourish takes it a step further.
It’s not often, as in never, that I interview someone starting a business whose first statement is, “We’re so incredibly happy.” But that was Aimee Altizer’s first response when I asked her to describe Flourish Bakery. It’s a dream-come-true project for executive director Altizer and her partners, Patricia Fava (specialty food buyer for Muir Copper Canyon Farms and longtime professional baker) and Jason and Andrea Thornton, who have been working with the men’s prison for a long time.
If Altizer’s name sounds familiar, it should—from now-defunct Avenues Bakery to her last pro kitchen stint in John Murcko’s Firewood, Altizer has been making her name as a top-ranked professional baker in Utah for years. Working out of a commissary on 300 West, the folks at Flourish will work with six students, all former prisoners or substance abusers, teaching them the business of baking and building a community. Developing the program has been a five-year process—but it’s moving out of the pilot phase.
“We are looking forward to our Pie it Forward fundraiser this autumn,” says Altizer. “We’ll sell an exclusive number of Thanksgiving pies. If all goes as hoped, folks will be able to participate in Flourish by buying our breads and pies at the booth at the winter farmer’s market at the Rio Grande.”
Find out more about Flourish and how you can help at flourishslc.org and the linked Crowdfunding page: www.crowdrise.com/Unshackled.
A second chance.
Flourish Bakery’s training program hires individuals from backgrounds of substance use disorders and/or incarceration. After completing a one-year paid apprenticeship in bread and pastry, graduates receive an externship, then job placement assistance.
IF YOU GO
See more inside our 2017 November/December Issue.