A few days ago, I woke early and drove the scenic hour and fifteen minutes to have my coffee in Marin at MH Bakery. For those of you that don’t know, MH provides Peter Lowell’s with that open crumb structure, hard crust sourdough Country Loaf that we serve with our soups, appetizers, and with simple good extra virgin olive oil. MH bakes & delivers their overnight-ferment sourdough to us three times a week and we are better for it. It’s the kind of bread that needs nothing added to it to be completely satisfying and delicious. With “New-Wave Artisanal Bread” only growing in popularity, MH has truly arrived on the scene as one of Marin County’s most celebrated bakeries.
Along with my coffee, I got to sit down with co-owner & baker, Devon Yanko, to catch some of her and her husband, co-owner, and baker Nathan Yanko’s story. It begins with a love story that comes with a penchant for Ultra Running. For those that don’t know (and I didn’t until I met Devon), Ultra Running is the sport of running marathons over the standard length of 26.2 miles. In 2009, Devon and Nathan, thanks to some wonderfully meddlesome friends and a shared passion for running long distances of up to 100 miles (yes, 100 miles), these two became friends and shortly thereafter fell in love. Within three years, they were married and making plans for the bakery. From the beginning, Nathan, a Tartine alum, and Devon previously a personal chef , have included the community in their baking endeavors. What began with a Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund the money to open the bakery, the two have continued to be strongly supported by their cycling and running communities. MH Bakery’s bike racks are often full and on any given weekend half of the crowd is donning spandex. Their chef, Arielle Giusto, is turning out beautiful food in the cafe such as their most popular Fried Egg Sandwich with roasted tomato basil aioli, and my favorite, their Adobo Rubbed Chicken sandwich with pickled red onion, radish, cabbage slaw, and lemon aioli. Add an array of delicious salads, perfect croissants, coffee, wine and more to the menu and it’s clear why MH is receiving a full house of business with lines out the door.
Part of MH’s success is due to their business design of producing wholesale bread and pastries for businesses such as Whole Foods and Equator Coffee. Before MH opened to the public, it was already baking bread (and continues to do so) for SHED in Healdsburg. Having a steady income-base has allowed MH to learn along the way, building slowly to become a well-oiled machine without the pressure of conforming their product and the quality of how they make it to a financial bottom-line. In the spirit of Slow Food, which champions taking the time to cultivate quality, MH is going the distance. Whether they’re in the 60th mile of the marathon or up all night baking bread with little sleep for days on end, Devon and Nathan have mastered the art of what it is to work steadily with perseverance, knowing they won’t quit and are in it for the long haul to bring their vision of bread with integrity to their community. Located at the base of Mt. Tam, MH Bakery is the perfect stop-off before or after a beautiful hike or ride through neighboring trails, and with everything that is going on in the world right now that I find difficult to digest, it’s good to remember how simple our pleasures can be and to receive, even celebrate, them. Mangia!