In 1994, in our tiny apartment kitchen, Andrea combined organic wheat flour and water with organic grapes to "start" the process of fermentation known as "sourdough". Unlike commercial yeast, "sourdough starter" contains active wild yeasts that slow down the entire process of bread making and give our bread its unique characteristics. Our dough is mixed gently, allowed to age and ripen at lower temperatures, over longer periods of time than most bread. This extra time and care combine to ensure the distinctive quality of each Fred's Bread loaf; a crisp crust, a moist open crumb with great depth of flavour that stands on its own and tastes of the grain it was made from.
We know you're wondering, who is FRED?
The secret's revealed!
Fred was head baker Andrea Damon Gibson's beater of a 1982 Tercel. The "car that could" hung in there with her when she started as a baker, making and hand delivering cakes. And, as it turns out, both Andrea and husband Steve's great grandfathers were named Fred. The name Fred's Bread just stuck (we think it's catchy) and today, it stands for artisanal bread made with time and care, just like your grandfathers would have enjoyed!
The Principals Andrea Damon Gibson and Steve Gibson
Andrea learned to bake from her mom at an early age because for her, baking is all about love. She translated the care and pleasure her mother took in cooking and baking for the family as an expression of her love. Andrea's mom always allowed her to help in the kitchen where anything she attempted was met with praise, encouragement, and enjoyment.
She organized her first bake sale in the front yard when she was about 10 years old. With two friends and the kitchen table pulled out onto the front lawn, they sold cookies, brownies and oatmeal cake. One of the girls' mothers thought they should donate the profits to charity. Andrea, on the other hand, wanted to go out for a steak dinner. This was her first foray as a baker before starting a pastry and cake making business out of her little basement kitchen when she was 22. Afterwards, she gained professional experience in the pastry kitchen of the David Wood Food Shop before attending the Peter Kump New York Cooking School where she earned her Blue Ribbon Diploma. That was followed up with a few years as pastry chef at Splendido under Arpi Magyar before starting Fred's Bread. Today, her focus is bread made the old school way. It's a good thing she's a patient person, because to make good bread, you need to make friends with time.
Steve completed his MBA from the University of Toronto in 1995 with a project that was a business plan for Fred's Bread. He earned an 'A', the bank gave them a loan and Fred's Bread was born. By September '95, the dynamic duo was sampling their bread at Pusateri's and happily, people loved it. The fact that Pusateri's and Scaramouche liked their product was a great coup for the fledgling company. By January of the following year, Andrea stopped sleeping at the bakery (the natural starters need to be babysat and she was working around the clock filling orders) while Steve maintained a full-time job. By 1998, Steve jumped in with both feet. In between all of this, the couple had two great kids- Meg and Max who grew up, in part, at the bakery. 2020 marks their 25th Anniversary. Time really has flown by for the bread making couple, and it seems like only yesterday when Steve wrote that business plan and Andrea started working on their first bread- City Sourdough.
The bakery is a natural extension of who's behind it. It takes care of us as a family and company, we take care of it. We believe in family and look to them to share in our joys, successes and failures. Sharing and breaking bread together is, simply put, one of our greatest pleasures in life - and we hope to have a small part in making it special for you.