From little oven to bakery: Arturo Ensico, a baker passionate about his work which brings good to people
Arturo Enciso and Ana Belén Salatino started Gusto Bread as a cottage bakery in their home, and later opened a storefront in Long Beach, Calif.
They run that rare kind of bakery, unrestrained by conventions or nostalgia, but with a reverence for Mexican and Indigenous traditions.
Gusto Bread is part of a constellation of panaderías, including Panadería Rosetta in Mexico City and Barrio Bread in Tucson, Ariz., that have reclaimed the principles of craft baking — traditional fermentation methods, heirloom grains and local, seasonal ingredients — away from European traditions, which never held exclusive rights in the first place.
Arturo, when did your passion for baking start?
Arturo Enciso: My passion for baking started when I spotted an old wood-fired oven in the corner of a garden at my Long Beach apartment complex about ten years ago.
I was drawn to it and decided to chop up some wood and fire it up. I also got a hold of “From the Wood Fired Oven” by Richard Miscovich, a book that offered me inspiration as well baking techniques. Soon I was fermenting wild yeast, hand mixing dough and baking bread.
So after you first discovered the oven in the garden, baking in it became your weekly habit?
Arturo: Yes, that’s it. I was instantly hooked. The idea of baking bread myself so captivated me that after a while I converted my living room into a commercial kitchen.
We with Ana opened our first brick-and-mortar bakery. But we’ve come a long way with this bakery. And now I’m doing things that I never thought I would be doing. The things I dreamed of doing, now I’m doing them.
What do you find special about baking that empresses you the most?
Arturo: It’s something about the simplicity of the ingredients that speak to me, just flour and water essentially and how much that can change depending on the baker and what you want to achieve, so that just really fascinates me.
Say some words about your bakery.
Arturo: Our 1,500-square-foot bakery includes a small retail space where people can order items such as sweet bread, flatbreads, Mexican coffees, and, of course, loaves of bread.
I’m very happy with my whole menu, I think it’s come a long way. It’s really inspired by the Americas. It’s not French-inspired, or European-inspired, it’s inspired by the Americas.
Are you familiar with the experience and recipes of other bread bakers?
Arturo: Certainly. As my newfound passion continued to grow, we with Ana took several trips to visit bakeries in the Bay Area, the East Coast, Oaxaca and Spain. I also took a baking course with Miscovich, whose book had influenced me early on, and whom I consider my mentor.
When did you realize you want to commit yourself to baking?
Arturo: In 2017 we moved into a two-story house at 928 Chestnut Ave., We transformed the living room there into a commercial kitchen and Gusto Bread was born.
That’s when I started having the drive and the vision to build a bakery, and that was my goal.
Besides locals, do any cafes order bread from you?
Arturo: Yes. Things moved quickly from there as restaurants and cafes such as Wide Eyes Open Palms and Rasselbock Kitchen & Beer Garden began ordering loaves of bread from us.
So you made your reputation with loaves of bread such as your sourdough loaf.
Arturo: Sourdough loaf is very popular among our customers. It’s always in high demand. Besides we’re serving at the bakery such items as the California Loaf, made with California-grown heirloom wheat and a vegan loaf called the Seeded Loaf.
What other original dishes do your buyers like?
Arturo: Many love the original dish we make with house-made masa such as the Nixtamal Queen, a caramelized sweet bread made of blue corn masa and dough.
Let success always accompany you in all your good undertakings!
Arturo: Thanks a lot!
By Alex Arlander | ENC News