Steve Scott, owner-baker of Babettes: "Our bread is not burnt; it's well caramelized"

Stevescottbabettes1.jpg
Lori Midson

Steve Scott
Babettes
3350 Brighton Boulevard
303-993-8602
cbabettes.wix.com/babettes

This is part one of my interview with Steve Scott, owner of Babettes at the Source; part two of our conversation will run tomorrow.

Somewhere, the American queen of French cooking is smiling. And Steve Scott, the owner/baker of Babettes, which opened last year in the Source, still remembers the profound influence that Julia Child, the woman who made French cooking accessible to those who didn't know the difference between a beignet and a bisque, had on his life. "When I was growing up, I saw this Dan Aykroyd skit on Saturday Night Live, where he drinks white wine and cuts his finger off -- Julia Child-style -- and when I found out that Julia actually had her own cooking series, I started watching it, and the first time I saw her doing beef Bourguignon, I knew that I had to make it," says Scott, who was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. "That dish was the very first thing I ever cooked, and I followed every step exactly, and I have to say, it turned out amazing; it was perfect."

See also: First look: Babette's Artisan Breads rises at the Source

And then, says Scott, "I forgot about food until I was in my mid-twenties, mostly because I started professionally racing bicycles instead." But his obsession with cooking soon emerged again, leading him to a job at a small organic grocery store. Scott, who started off in the kitchen there, soon made his way to the bakery -- a transition, he remembers, that "opened up an entirely different world for me, one that I enjoyed a lot more than cooking." Cooking "was throwing things in a pan, whereas baking was more exact, and there were proven techniques that you had to adhere to, which I loved," he says.

Scott then took his baking infatuation to another level, enrolling in Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco, and it was during his time there that he became firmly entrenched in bread dough. "I was looking through a Smithsonian magazine and found an article about Poilâne, in Paris, and there was a picture of this guy -- a baker standing in front a giant brick oven who looked like hell -- and that sealed the deal for me," says Scott. "He had that look of passion -- that look of never compromising -- on his face that only years in the business puts on you, and that's when I decided specifically to become a bread baker." Even now, reflects Scott, "when things get hard and my feet are scuffing on the floor, I still think about that guy."

After solidifying his fate, he landed at Della Fattoria, a commercial bakery on a farm in Petaluma, California, where he baked bread for fifteen hours a day. And then, for family reasons, he moved to Pensacola, Florida, a jaunt that left him jaded. "I worked in some fucked-up, shitty bakeries -- places where people weren't doing stuff right -- so in my spare time, I started baking the breads that would eventually lead me to what I'm doing now," says Scott, who spent a long two years in Florida before heading to Boulder for an opportunity to become the head baker at Breadworks. "Florida was awful, but sometimes you have to eat shit before you know what caviar tastes like."

He rolled dough at Breadworks for nearly three years, departing to take a job as pastry chef at the University of Colorado, where he doled out hundreds of dozens of cookies, muffins and cakes on a daily basis. "I took the job for the money and the benefits, but I liked the fact that it forced me to think about things differently, especially what baking powder, baking soda and altitude can do to the baking process...and how not to wind up with a flat cake," says Scott.


Location Info

Babette's Artisan Breads

3350 Brighton Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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6 comments
Jonny G
Jonny G

I love this guy's bread.  Best bread, IMO, in Denver by quite a bit.  They're expensive, so they become my go-to only for when I'm going to spend extra and cook at home--but I'm glad they're here.  I have to say this: generally (and I think 99% of the time), it's not burnt.  I'm sorry, it's not.  It's baked properly.  Char is part of the deal, like fat on a rib-eye.  Or char on a Napolitano pie crust.  Saying something was "burned" implies that an error was committed.  No errors here.  I'm a fan.

GFTW
GFTW

I agree -- the bread has a burnt taste. Plus it's on the pricey side. Very nice and knowledgable people though. Hopefully they'll make some adjustments.

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece

Gluten-free bread is awful. Finally someone who doesn't pretend it isn't.

peegee303
peegee303

Burnt or not, charging someone $4 for a baguette is untenable.  For someone that's going the route of old-world European bakers, he should know that he'd be run out of town if he tried charging that much for a loaf anywhere in Europe.

thegreatmeathook
thegreatmeathook

I appreciate Steve’s passion for his craft and his product; however, the bread at Babette’s that is often referred to as burnt is, in fact, burnt. Caramelized flavor is sweet and toasty. The crust of that bread tastes of charcoal, is bitter and some parts of the edges powder into soot when the bread is broken or cut. That said the inside of the bread is delicious. Are the loaves so large that the outside must be burnt in order to be sure the inside is baked through? Perhaps smaller loaves? How often does one need to hear from people that the bread is burnt before they realize that their customers might be on to something?

Covana
Covana

@bondadprevalece  Obviously its not as good. Try going without anything though. Its nice to have an option.

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