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Aug. 22, 2006
The bread-baking apprentice

becoming the bread-masterAfter an employee has worked at CLIF BAR for seven years, they get a six-week sabbatical. Some travel the world, others catch up on home-projects, and a few, like Randy, Gary's brother and VP of CLIF LAB, devote their free time to exploring their passions. Last week, Randy stopped by the office to share some of what he's been doing. I was volunteering at Diabetes Camp so I wasn't able to savor his artisanal creations; word in the office, however, was that the loaves were some of the best any had ever had. Below, Randy takes a few moments to explain what it's like baking in the artisan way.

My Sabbatical has been based around a food exploration. In my belief that this is a time to learn and bring back to the company, not only a refreshed self, but a more learned one, I’m enrolled in the two-week long Artisan 1 & 2 baking program at the San Francisco Baking Institute in South San Francisco, winners of the 2005 Coup du Monde World Bread Competition in France.

This first week is yeast bread and we make about 20 different styles of bread but concentrate on the quintessential baguette. The beauty of the baguette is the simplicity of the ingredients—flour, water, salt and yeast. You learn to manipulate these four in so many ways: achieving an infinite number of baguette styles, from crap like most commercial stuff, to artisan level that even the best bakers find hard to duplicate.

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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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