Richard Bourdon's legendary baking ability has put Berkshire Mountain Bakery on Bon Appetit's top 10 list.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Berkshire Mountain Bakery has been a main staple (literally) of South County’s "foodie" life for nearly 35 years. According to owner and bread master Richard Bourdon, each of those years has been dedicated to perfecting that art of good bread and bringing good food to the world.
Bourdon's near scientific perfection of the sourdough process has earned the bakery impressive mention in the January 2011 volume of Bon Appetit magazine. Berkshire Mountain Bakery, along with nine other bakeries nationwide, shares the distinction of being among the"Top 10 Best Bakeries in America." Of course, if you ask Bourdon about the honor, he just smiles and brushes his flour-covered hands across his apron.
"I was surprised, of course I was surprised," he said. "It's good; I'll take it. I'm always up for another adventure."
Bourdon's own adventures have carried him from Ville-Marie in Quebec to Amsterdam and finally, in 1985, to the Berkshires. When the bakery first started up, Bourdon spent several months perfecting the fermentation process that he had taken for granted in Europe. The challenge; a new set of U.S. born ingredients, including wheat.
"I'm good at troubleshooting," he said. "I've been doing this for a long time; I know when I see something going on. A lot of people [bakers] call me for advice. I bring it out there to help. It's endless hours making bread."
While bread is still the focus of the bakery, Bourdon said he has been venturing out into other baked goods and pastries, which he sells only from the Housatonic location (and at the summer farmers' markets). The result of his efforts is a mouth-watering array of artisan cakes, breads and pastries that tend to fly off of the shelves, especially around the holidays.
"My goal is to keep a little more money here in the house," he said. "That way I can provide a more luxurious product; we don't ever cut corners. I have room to move."
As customers crowd the tiny front shelf of the bakery exclaiming over the rich panettone and holiday bread, it is hard to imagine a time when Bourdon was not rushing from the kitchen to cash register, his arms always laden with baguettes, sunny flax, ciabatta and even a little Stollen. Here's to another 35 years of perfection.
By the way, you cannot live one more day of your life without trying the apple cake. Better hurry, it may only be a holiday whim.