2015 Chicago Rising Star Artisan Greg Wade of Publican Quality Bread

2015 Chicago Rising Star Artisan Greg Wade of Publican Quality Bread
May 2015

Publican Quality Bread
825 West Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607



Greg Wade grew up baking alongside his mother and grandmother. It was just a comforting practice, a welcome family routine, not a career option, yet. When the Milwaukee born and bred Wade took a baking class at The Illinois Institute of Art, he realized what he’d been doing for all those years in mom’s kitchen, would become his calling.

After graduating from culinary school, Wade began working at Taxim in Chicago, specializing in breads and pastries. By the time Girl & The Goat was getting ready to open in 2010, Wade joined the team, undertaking his first full-time bread post. He baked breads that weren’t just technically precise; they had depth and intriguing flavors and garnishes. Wade grew with the business, and, by 2013, he was overseeing bread baking at Girl & The Goat, Little Goat, and Little Goat French Market.

Now the head baker at Publican Quality Meats, Wade runs the bread programs for One Off Hospitality Group, working hand-in-hand with the company’s chefs to develop new breads to fit each restaurant’s menu. Meanwhile, Wade continues to build authenticity into his breads, with a focus on fermentation and sourcing the best local grains for loaves with dimension and integrity.

Interview with Chicago Rising Star Artisan Greg Wade of Publican Quality Bread

Caroline Hatchett: How did you get your start?
Greg Wade:
I’ve been baking professionally for five years now. I went to culinary school and always made the bread there. After I graduated, I worked at Taxim doing bread and pastries. Then I moved on to Girl & the Goat. Eventually I oversaw all the bread baking there along with Little Goat and Little Goat French Market.

CH: How did you build your bread technique?
Girl & the Goat was where I started to bake just bread full time. Chef Stephanie Izard wanted flavorful bread that she could use to hold interesting garnishes. I started playing with the wood-fired oven, timing how fast the oven cooled versus how fast the bread was rising. Now it’s more tactile. I’ll create recipes, make the bread, and write down what I did. There’s a remarkable difference between using [grains from] Baker Miller and Spence Farms.

CH: How much bread do you make normally?
150 kilograms on a weekend. 50 of those are multigrain. We have to make bread for 30 restaurants.

CH: Why do you ferment your 1979 multigrain bread for 60 hours?
The benefits are flavor. You really start to get a lot of the starch and proteins to be broken down. Lots of people have problems with gluten in bread, because they’re pumping out bread in 5 hours. Our flours are not enriched, just milled wheat. It's a natural product combined with long fermentation, just like fermenting anything else. That's why it's easier to digest and a healthier product. Also the breads are naturally leavened. By doing that, it lessens the content of phytase, or physic acid, which doesn’t allow you to absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also has a longer shelf life—like four to five days on the counter—as long as it's protected in a paper bag.

CH: What’s your five year plan?
I’d like to have a place that is devoted solely to bread that uses natural products with little to no enrichment. We want to create more relationships with local farms and grains. We already have a great relationship with Spence Farms. He grows some great wheat and rye just for us. I want to get back to what we should actually be eating here, be as local as possible. We’re also going to be a part of a wheat study with Bill Davison [of University of Illinois Extension]. He’s going to pass some heirloom organic spring wheat to us and then we’ll test its baking qualities.