Rising Star Baker Matt Pontarelli of The Exchange - Biography

Chicago, IL

September 2021

After graduating from the University of Dayton in 2014, Matt Pontarelli was living at home, unsure where his life would take him. He found an old bag of flour and decided to make bread. The loaf was mediocre at best, but the entire process captivated him. Unable to find a baking position, Pontarelli became a line cook at Chef Brian Huston’s Boltwood. Huston became a mentor and taught Pontarelli the value of relationships with farmers in order to produce quality bread. After a year and a half, Pontarelli moved on to his first professional baking job at Publican Quality Bread, where he built his skills under James Beard Award-winning Baker Greg Wade.

In February 2021, Pontarelli reunited with Huston to open DMK Restaurants’ European-style bakery, The Arch. As head baker, Pontarelli now focuses on the bread program for the newer, vegetable-forward restaurant, The Exchange, also in Chicago’s historic Railway Exchange Building. His precise creativity drives him to bake naturally leavened items such as Midwestern-style cornmeal baguettes and melt-in-your-mouth, ultra-hydrated country loaves.