Cary, N.C. — In any conversation about where to buy bread in the Triangle, La Farm is sure to come up. La Farm Bakery in Cary has been serving fresh artisan loaves to the community since 1999.
In those 15 years, owner and baker Lionel Vatinet has opened an adjacent cafe, began teaching baking classes, put a "bread truck" on the road and wrote a book, "A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker."
"The focus is on bread, but my goal is to teach," Vatinet said.
As a member of the highly selective French artisans guild "Les Compagnons du Devoir," Vatinet pledged to share his craft to both professional and home bakers. La Farm hosts visiting guild trainees who learn traditional techniques and the fundamentals of French bread making, as well as members of the community in various classes.
While La Farm prides itself on being a traditional French bakery, the bakers have branched out to offer new selections for its Southern clientele and other delicious treats to please everyone's palates – for example, there is an upcoming class about making cornbread, and last week when we were visiting, they were selling loaves of jalapeno-cheddar bread. One of the bakery's best-selling pastries, the white chocolate baguette, was developed by an visiting guild intern and is still on the menu!
Making bread for the locals also means using local products. Vatinet uses local products whenever possible for the 10 standard breads and 20 seasonal treats the bakery creates. The flour is ground and milled in North Carolina, and they also use local cheeses, ham, honey and Counter Culture Coffee at the cafe.
The bread is even fresher now, thanks to a new oven in the kitchen. It was installed about a week ago, and while the La Farm team is still working out the kinks, Vatinet thinks it will be a valuable asset for the bakery.
"It was like upgrading from a Citroen to a BMW or a Mercedes," he joked. "We love sticking with tradition, but we have to think, what else can we use to keep the quality consistent and serve more bread?"
The new oven bakes faster, so the bakers can delay the bread's starting time, leading to an even fresher product.
We recommend heading to La Farm for brunch – try the Croque Madame or the Quiche du Jour – and to sample the dozens of breads and pastries while shopping. You can pick up great gifts or pre-packaged La Farm Products like hearth-baked granola, as well as Vatinet's book.
If you can't make it to the bakery for a fresh loaf, you can purchase La Farm products at Whole Foods in Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Chapel Hill; at the Downtown Raleigh Farmers' Market, the State Farmers' Market, and the Western Wake Farmers' Market; or on the go from the bread truck.
La Farm has several summer-themed classes coming up, some of which take place at Vatinet's home:
- Friday, May 16: Tarts Gone Wild
- Monday, June 16: Grilled Pizzas and Summertime Wines
- Tuesday, June 17: Summertime Delights