Sustenance Artisan Breads

The People

sustenance22Sustenance Artisan breads is one of those places you find and proudly tell your friends about as if you owned it. It feels very personal and it’s easy to develop a relationship with the owners. In fact, they say “The concept of our bakery is to allow patrons an intimate bread experience.”

Dale Karsky co-owns the bakery with his wife Margaret Karsky who works in the medical industry. He is the bakery’s only employee working the ovens and the cash register 70 hours per week. His wife Margaret is kind enough to relieve him on Saturdays when she works the register and Dale retreats home to cook a fine meal, drink beer and rest. It’s a regiment that shows in his product and personality. He is a perfectionist and a hard-working cook, not just a baker. He is brash, hilarious and warm. You can tell that he got his start as an all-around cook working for Bob Bennett at the old Fitger’s location. When Bob’s baker left unexpectedly, Dale stepped in and managed the baking as well as the pastry station. He worked at Bennett’s for more than six years (an eternity in this business) before opening the bakery in June 07.

The Business

sustenance2Sustenance is located across the bridge at 1323 N Broadway and Hammond- just a few blocks beyond Dan’s Feed Bin in the old Courthouse above Red Mug Coffee. As you enter the main door at street level the bakery is immediately to your left. A chalkboard greets customers by noting selections available for that day.

The atmosphere is reminiscent of a quaint European bakery or cafe. The bakery is unassuming, stark, and serves one function- to produce and sell good food rather than entertain. It is however full of character and history with soaring ceilings, beautiful woodwork, arched doorways and large windows. If you ask Dale nicely he might even show you the old jail cell adjacent to the bakery which has been left unchanged since regular use began in 1890.

sustenance13Entering the space further, one finds fresh baked breads cooling on the work bench straight ahead. Fresh loaves perfume the air with a smell that seems to remind everyone who enters of childhood. Fully-stocked shelves feature a focused selection of breads, pastries and cookies. The cooler next to the bread shelf features fresh handmade mozzarella, pies, cakes and desserts. There are a couple of tables and bar stools around Dale’s main oven, proofing box and shaping bench. It’s a perfect perch from which to watch him braid breads and peer into the oven as the dough attains a perfect crust. There’s also a comfortable nook complete with his cook books if you should choose to eat your goods directly out of the oven rather than taking them home.

The Philosophy

sustenance23Dale’s philosophy is truly artisan- one guy, one oven, one set of hands, and good ingredients. Dale takes his product very seriously and sticks to techniques and ingredients that he enjoys. You could say that the breads are a nice blend of classic french baking and American comfort food. It’s crusty, but you’re not going to cut the roof of your mouth. Dale compares his product to Great Harvest by saying “if you want a dense rib-sticking loaf, we’re not the place, we’re the exact opposite”. If you can set aside preconceived notions of what a rock-hard french baguette should be and put yourself in Dale’s uncompromising hands, you’ll have a great experience. Dale knows what he likes but he is also happy to accommodate special requests from customers and is sensitive to their preferences. He regularly produces Challa for one Jewish customer who enjoys it so much that he places a large order every week. He also has a huge following with his gluten-free menu.

Experimentation is also a big part of the sustenance experience. Since opening, Dale is proud to have offered some 45 different specials in addition to the menu of regular products that you would find in any bakery. His customers love him for it and it creates something of a regular demand. The bakery is a daily stop on the way home for many of it’s patrons. Others come by more than once a week for their baked goods. As owners, Dale and Margaret hope that Sustenance actually becomes more than just a bakery and something of a community anchor. In tandem with Dale’s organic philosophy Sustenance Artisan Breads genuinely helps enrich the community- through bread alone.

The Product

sustenance24Sustenance doesn’t have a set menu. A few examples of their breads include baguette, focaccia, sourdough, ciabatta, and familiar sandwich breads in a variety of flavors. They also offer a variety of spreads, infused olive oils, and cheeses to compliment the bread as part of a meal or a quick snack. The special gluten free “vault” essentially allows for a wheat and gluten-free environment in which Dale prepares specialty products for customers with allergies.

For those craving a sweet treat, Dale’s Pastry Chef Svetlana Gvozd’ova creates delicious and beautiful pastries. Svetlana proudly makes creations from scratch which have been inspired by her years of baking in her homeland of the Ukraine.

How to get it

sustenance25Sustenance Artisan Breads can be found at a number of retail locations and restaurants around town. Most notably Whole Foods which carries his ten grain loaf, cranberry bread, and wild rice bread as well as his gluten-free line of products. Whole Foods receives fresh deliveries from Sustenance on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Bob Bennett at Restaurant 301 features Dale’s breads on various sandwiches as well.

Be sure to stop in and see Dale for tips about how to use his products. From French toast to Italian sandwiches made with his salty herb foccacia and unbelievably fresh mozzarella, he can guide you to eating better through great ingredients. You can also attend one of Dale’s occasional cooking classes at Blue Heron Trading Company in the Dewitt Seitz building.

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Article written by Duluth Dish and produced by The DuSu.