Rising Star Baker Zak Stern of Zak the Baker - Biography

Miami, FL

March 2016

Miamian Zak Stern wanted to work with his hands and to know things like when tomato seasons starts in South Florida. So he withdrew from pharmacy school at Florida State and spent six years traveling around the United States, Europe, and Israel, apprenticing at farms and learning the craft and artisanship behind wine, cheese, and bread. His experience on a goat farm in Israel made an impression, instilling in Stern a relentless work ethic and teaching him “the wisdom of the country” versus the wisdom of the city. Baking bread also made an impact on Stern. He loved the challenge of extracting the maximum amount of flavor from the minimum amount of ingredients. He learned to appreciate simplicity as a virtue.  

After years on the road, Stern was ready for the comfort and familiarity of home. With no money, but a world of hands-on experience, he returned to Miami, got a part time job, installed a used pizza oven in his friend’s garage, and started baking bread. Stern was selling 50 loaves each week at a farmers market when chefs started seeking him out and requesting his bread for their restaurants. Suddenly, Stern had a business. He hired apprentices, who worked for room and board, found a commercial space to bake in, and continued to accumulate wholesale accounts. Finally, and entirely self-funded, Zak the Baker opened in Wynwood in 2014. Two years later, Stern has a staff of 52 and the business continues to grow, but not just for growth’s sake. Stern is growing community, built on bread.