at the markets

The Rustic Baker at Boyne City Farmer's Market

November 29, 2016
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The Rustic Baker:  Louis Grabowski and his wife, Jenny

From Corporate to Captivated: The Rustic Baker

He whistles as he hovers above his pastries, breads and sticky buns, positioning his wares carefully so that each patron sees a well-arranged, aesthetically pleasing display. A gentleman stops in admiration and the conversation quickly shifts from informal greetings to talk of wheat berries, flours and techniques.

Others stop to peruse the frosted cinnamon rolls. You can see them mutter to themselves, Should I? Really, should I?–taste buds debating conscience until, finally, Why not? The internal bargaining completed and purchase made, the first taste nears the lips; the eyes close as that first bit of icing crumbles onto the tongue.

This is how Louis Grabowski spends his time at the Boyne City Farmers' Market on a cool, cloudy December morning amidst the other food and farm artisans selling wares at their booths, tables and displays.

While his wife's name, Jenny, is on the business card he hands me, he notes, "I'm the artisan baker."

He goes on to relate his 14-plus years as a baker, beginning with a local grocer and progressing to the level of corporate kneader.

"A guy who worked for me was 58 years old. He went home from work one day and died. That was enough for me. I got tired of the rat race."

He turns his hat backwards and helps a few more visitors who are admiring his handiwork. Within a short time, the cinnamon buns are nothing but a sweet memory, and the bread is beginning to disappear from baskets. Grabowski appears gratified that his resolution to make a new life is working.

"I spent a couple of years at Crooked Tree Breadworks working with Greg [Carpenter], and he taught me a lot. I learned more about sourdough than anyone could imagine. But soon I was ready to head out on my own."

The Rustic Baker is at the Boyne City Farmers' Market all year. The business will be growing, too. Grabowski says they're building a professional commercial kitchen and bakery on his property in Boyne Falls, and hopes to continue expanding the business toward the restaurant market and other venues that may pick his brand as a favorite.

As changes continue at home and abroad, Grabowski has taken up roost at Boyne Mountain as well, baking his specialties for the resort crowd. He says it was hard to pass up their offer, so now he finds himself in front of a warm oven most every day in multiple venues.

"It's not always easy, but it sure beats the alternative."

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