How To Treat Your Baker: We Visit Louisville's Blue Dog

As far as I can tell, Louisville's Blue Dog Bakery gets along just fine, thank you, without a website. Google pops up years of warm stories and positive reviews about the breads, pastries, and meals.

When a dedicated friend of Kentucky food, farmers, and agriculture took some of us central Kentucky urb-ag types on a fine field trip to Louisville recently, she introduced us to Blue Dog.

While we ogled the MASSIVE European wood-burning oven (Llopis, 45,000 pounds, $50,000 in 1998, Spanish) and admired the lovely spare space, our generous tour guide urged, "Pick a loaf, each of you," and we did. I chose the chewy, slightly tangy levain, fatter than a baguette and with more "insides."

I thought of the sweet gift of this lovely bread this week when another friend brought me "Half a Loaf," an October 2008 Atlantic article about inventive New York city baker Jim Lahey. We can thank Lahey's persistence and inventiveness for developing an astonishing simple, home-kitchen friendly recipe and method for making fantastic bread -- work which cannot be protected as an intellectual property. The article's author, senior editor Corby Kummer, described the thanks Lahey gets:

Bloggers couldn't stop praising the recipe, and it became one of the paper's most e-mailed articles. Lahey says that readers come to his bakery simply to meet the man who let them have tasty homemade bread on their own tables every day. 'It would be nice if they paid me a little something!' he said. 'Or at least bought some of my bread.' But they don't " they love their own bread, they say proudly " and none of the other bakeries that copy him pay him, either.

Our tour guide had better manners than that! I appreciate her, and I appreciate the ways our Louisville neighbors lavish praise on their baker, across years of enjoying his work.

BNET Business Magazine, 2000: Multi-page story about a complete work day for baker Bob Hancock

Robin Garr's Louisville Restaurant Reviews, 2003 (Garr also wrote the BNET article)

Louisville Magazine, 2006

Courier Journal, 2008