Interview with Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Artisan Evin Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery

by Korakot Suriya-arporn
December 2014

Korakot Suriya-arporn: How did you get your start in baking?
Evin Dogu: I was a big fan of pastries and baked goods growing up, but I never baked anything seriously other than chocolate chips cookies. About two years ago, I started staging at a couple of bakeries, like Buzz Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia, Farm and Sparrow in Asheville, North Carolina, and Bien Cuit in New York. The experience was very informative, but it was also difficult at times because I was brand new at it. I learned a lot, especially at such high-volume bakeries.

KS: Who’s your mentor?
ED: I guess the owner of Farm and Sparrow, Dave Bauer. I learned the vision of a business and my style of baking from him. But I’ve also learned a lot from the entire crew of the kitchens that I staged in, so it is hard to think of only one person.

KS: How does your Turkish background influence your pastries?
ED: Some of our pastries are influenced by that, most definitely the savory ones. We make borek, which is a traditional pastry filled with spiced ground lamb. We sprinkle some of our pastries with sesame and nigella seeds, which are Turkish in style. I also took my grandmother’s recipe for pogaca, which is a biscuit shortbread with a potato, feta, and onion filling, folded like empanadas. The dough technique for the pastries is definitely French, but the flavors are Turkish. I would say it’s 60 per cent French, and 40 per cent Turkish.

KS: What is the biggest challenge facing your bakery?
ED: After the reopening, it’s rehiring people and working in such a kitchen with high intensity and precision. I was in the kitchen all the time at first, but soon after I hired part-time help. I’m now in the front, as well as in the kitchen. It’s pretty challenging to be on the same page with my workers in both sections, but I love interacting with customers and I feel a stronger need to be in the front.

KS: What direction are you taking your pastries to in the upcoming year?
ED: I want to focus more on Middle Eastern flavor combinations, especially savory pastries, like Georgian pastries. I want to integrate more of their techniques as well, and also try to improve what we already have.

KS: What’s your five-year plan?
ED: That’s an interesting question. I see myself continuing to improve on my production work, as well as my managerial skills. I hope that I could have a break a little more, and not have to be on schedule that much. I would really love to participate in education programs with little kids. More like philanthropy work and creative projects. I love to be able to be more creative.