Pastry Chef Tim Healea of Little T American Baker - Biography

Portland, OR

July 2011

Tim Healea once wanted to become a journalist. He took his journalism degree, packed his bags, and moved to New York, eager for a career in magazines. He soon discovered it wasn’t for him, and swapped his pen and pad for chefs whites. His passion for baking was born while studying at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Making his own sourdough starter from Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery sparked something in Healea, and he started directing the bulk of his culinary energies toward baking. But he wasn’t just in love with making bread and pastry; now that he had found his dream vocation, Healea was ambitious.

In 2002, he was part of the team that competed at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris, earning the silver medal in a competition that sought out the best bakers in the world. It was also where he earned the nickname “Little T,” as the baby of the team at the time. Originally from the Northwest, Healea eventually went back, arriving in Portland to intern at Pearl Bakery just as the baking scene was about to take off. He would stay there for nearly 10 more years, eventually becoming head baker. 

Inevitably, Healea’s ambition struck again. Yearning to pair his love of baking with entrepreneurship, he opened his own bakery. Little T American Baker has now been open for three years. At the heart of the business is a formerly overlooked variety of flour that Healea sources for just the right crunch, chew, and snap in his breads and pastries. This precision and obsession with quality led to the best baguette we’ve had outside of Paris (not to mention business from some of Portland’s top toques). But Healea doesn’t guard (all of) his secrets. He’s passionate about spreading the gospel of yeast, flour, and water, and he has taught bread baking classes worldwide, from the immediate environs of Portland to the International Chefs Congress in New York and places as far afield as Japan and Malaysia. And with talks of Seattle and East Coast expansion, folks outside of his classes and ZIP code may get a taste of Little T in the near (and delicious) future.