Old Dog Baking Company
Meet Our June Featured Business: Old Dog Baking Company
Following on our profile last month of Business Boot Camp Judges’ Award winner Katelyn Moore of The Fork + Table restaurant, this month we highlight Audience Choice winner Steve Anastasia of Old Dog Baking Company. Steve’s approach to baking treats bread as a source of sustenance, pleasure, and community. Working out of his home bakery that he built himself in Somesville, Steve practices traditional methods of baking and delivery, bringing subscription customers’ weekly orders to their homes by bicycle. Whether you are familiar with Old Dog Baking Company or not, read on to learn more about this unique Mount Desert business.
Steve Anastasia was working for the National Park Service, living in Pt. Reyes, CA with his wife, Christie, and young son when he uncovered his latent passion for traditional baking at Brickmaiden Breads. Befriending the owner, Celine, and learning about her approach – woodfire, brick oven, sourdough, and ancient grains – Steve was hooked. The more time he spent around this style of baking and its delicious results the more determined Steve became to start his own bakery.
After a brief stint in Alaska, Christie took a position as the spokesperson for Acadia National Park and the family relocated to MDI. Initially Steve baked at Sweet Pea’s Cafe in Bar Harbor, but soon took time off to pursue his own bakery. Steve and Christie purchased a home in Somesville, part of Island Housing Trust’s Ripples Hill project. Steve gives full credit to the IHT program for enabling his family to live on MDI. With permission from IHT and the support of his neighbors, Steve secured a conditional use permit from the town to build a brick oven alongside his house. Constructing the small bakery from scratch, Steve eventually launched Old Dog Baking Company in the summer of 2014.
From the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey, Steve worked deliberately and slowly to formulate his business strategy. He knew that if he took on too many subscription customers or tried to cover too large a delivery area he would overextend himself and burn out. Focusing on the values that so drew him to traditional baking – quality of ingredients, integrity of process, and dedication to community – Steve moved slowly and purposefully. He built extra time into his bike delivery schedule so that he could stop to chat with customers and get to know them. He brought on interns to teach and mentor, intending eventually to partner with them as equals in a larger retail bakery cooperative.
In only its fourth year of operation, Old Dog Baking already offers an impressive product range: batards, boules, baguettes, and bagels, each with dazzling flavor profiles and impeccable textures of crust and crumb. His preferred pace yields around sixty loaves per day but during peak season he produces around 100. His “falling” oven is heated once each day, stoked to high heat in the morning with different types of bread dough going in or coming out throughout the day according to their particular cooking characteristics. It is a delicate process that requires a nuanced understanding of traditional baking mechanics and concerted attention to detail. The temperamental nature of brick ovens is a challenge, but it is also part of the allure for Steve and his customers.
If your bread vocabulary primarily consists of pre-sliced and plastic-bagged varietes you owe it to yourself to try Old Dog Baking Company’s old-world textures, contemporary flavors, and timeless quality. Reach out to Steve through his website or visit him on Fridays at Floret in Somesville for MDI FarmDrop. He will be all too happy to open your mind and your palate to the immense and enchanting flavors of traditional bread.