by Ashley Lodato, Bluebird Grain Farms staff writer
On a foggy day last February after skiing the Echo Ridge Loppett, my kids and I stopped at the Lake Chelan Artisan Bakery (LCAB) to fuel ourselves up for the drive home. My friend, the owner and chief baker of LCAB, Lindsay Evans, was not at the bakery that day and I didn’t know the employee on duty. As we selected pastries, the employee began–entirely unprompted–singing the praises of the flours and whole grains used by LCAB. “It’s a small family farm up in the Methow Valley,” he told me. “They’re organic, which is enough reason to use their products, but the main reason is that their flours and grains actually taste so good! They’re just so delicious.”
I listened and smiled, and reminded myself to later tell Lindsay about the excellent service and salesmanship of the employee and to tell Brooke and Sam Lucy of Bluebird Grain Farms about this unsolicited endorsement. The employee had no way of knowing that I wrote for Bluebird; nor did he know that I’m a friend of Lindsay. He was simply an employee proud of the quality of products he was selling and eager to share ingredient sourcing information.
The thing is, the employee was spot-on with his endorsement of Bluebird’s freshly-milled organic flours and whole grain emmer farro and einka berries; they really do taste great. That’s why Lindsay uses Bluebird’s products to make LCAB’s daily supply of buttermilk wheat sandwich bread, whole wheat sourdough loaves, multi-grain breads, and farro salads. “I love to use as many local ingredients as possible at the bakery and when I knew I was opening my own bakery I was very excited to use Bluebird products,” says Lindsay. “Not only are Sam and Brooke my Methow Valley neighbors and friends, they product some of the most nutritious and delicious whole grain products available anywhere.”
Lindsay emphasizes the importance of quality, freshness, and nutrition in baking. “Bluebird products are superstars on all fronts,” she says, citing LCAB’s use of Bluebird’s hard red wheat flour and dark northern rye flour. She also uses the whole Einka Farro in her fresh grain and vegetable salads.
Bluebird is just the tip of Lindsay’s efforts to source local ingredients. Local and regional growers and farmers provide her with seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. Her own parents’ home garden in Chelan sends fresh herbs, kale, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, raspberries, and other produce straight into the bakery. Blueberries for pies and pastries come from Blueberry Hills Farms in Manson, and she serves coffee and espresso from Blue Star Coffee Roasters in Twisp. “The fact that my business gets to help support my friends’ businesses is amazing,” says Lindsay, who sees the economic impact that buying locally and regionally has on her hometown, as well as on the community where she lives in the Methow Valley. “Buying local is important to me to support my local economy and reduce excess shipping energy.”
Lindsay enjoys baking seasonal delicacies year-round, but it’s hard to compete with the bounty of summer. “My favorite things to make at the bakery are things that feature fresh, locally-grown, in-season fruit,” Lindsay says. “This includes our fruit Danish [nectarines, peaches, or raspberries], fruit pies [cherry and strawberry-rhubarb are particular favorites], and our cherry almond tart.”
Since she opened the bakery, Lindsay has balanced the menu with familiar items and new offerings. The response has been positive. “I have received tremendous positive feedback about our salads that feature Bluebird’s whole einka farro,” she says. “Einka was a very new thing to our customers but once the salads caught on we heard many customers express their love for the chewy heartiness of the grain, especially paired with crunchy veggies and our homemade dressings.” Apparently farmer Sam recently suggested to Lindsay that she try the einka in her homemade soups, so stay tuned on variations on old favorites when winter comes.
Lindsay grew up in Chelan and understands the important role a small bakery plays in community life. Quiches and sandwiches nourish the body, while time spent lingering with friends and family over a cup of coffee nourishes the soul. Lindsay calls the bakery “a casual and inviting space to gather with friends,” but it’s more than that. First, it’s a business that was a team effort from the start, with Lindsay’s family, her staff, and even local community members pitching in to help launch the bakery and make it a success. “I’m so proud of my staff and so thankful to the local community and my family for helping me every step of the way,” says Lindsay.
The bakery is also a place where Lindsay’s love of baking is evident in every product in the cases. Lindsay says, “I’ve always loved to bake for my family and baking for my community members is an extension of that. I get satisfaction knowing that my treats are part of an enjoyable experience for locals and visitors alike.”
For more information about Lake Chelan Artisan Bakery, visit their website or stop by the bakery, located at 246 West Manson Hwy, along the Chelan-Manson highway in Chelan Plaza, between Safeway and the Lakeview Drive-In.