Bread from a Pizzaiolo

David Surcamp is the bread baker at the esteemed Oakland restaurant, Pizzaiolo.  And it’s an amazing bread.  His bread as toast in the morning at Pizzaiolo with coffee is a breakfast with a following.

What kind of bread is this exactly?   “I just call it bread, but a lot of people don’t like that.  I guess you could call it country bread, or pain levain.”

David will be teaching making bread on the East Bay Mini Maker Faire Homesteader Stage, our forum for demos and instruction on the domestic and sustainability arts.  The exhibition will cover all the processes from start to finish, including David actually baking in Park Day / CAMP 510’s onsite cob oven.

David has been baking for eight years, and for Pizzaiolo since July 2011.  His path is a classic maker story.  Largely self-taught, David started baking out of necessity and thrift. “I was a jobless student in college and I couldn’t afford to go out to eat. I thought I could make bread cheaper than I could buy it, so I started baking.”

Through his vocal instructor (David is also a singer and was that time studying opera), David got his first kitchen job, and then finally an official bakery job.

I didn’t learn a whole lot there either.  I got more into it because I wanted to make pizza.  Pizza is just bread dough with stuff on it.  So I started reading bread books.  A lot of them.  I would go to library once a week and check out everything they had.  I self-taught myself the fundamentals.

David self-taught making a brick oven too.  He used The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott to source some loose plans. He cruised photos online, put the two together, and built himself an oven in the backyard.  He started baking and selling at a local farmer’s market.

Then in 2010, David moved from Oregon to the Bay Area.  He found himself a few jobs, making it work, learning — but then saw an ad for the Pizzaiolo baking position on Craigslist. You could tell that Charlie wrote it: ‘Come to Pizzaiolo and find me.’  And so I came and found him.”

Pizzaiolo’s oven is a large, wood-burning oven.  Refining the bread and figuring out the dynamics of the oven has been a process.  Is it finished?  “There’s always learning involved.  I think I’d be very stubborn to think that this is all I can do, that this is as good as it gets.”

If you want to try David’s bread and study a master maker in action, come see David’s talk / demo at 1:30 PM on the Homesteader Stage—nestled in Park Day’s “forest”—very near the faire entrance on 42nd Street.

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One response to “Bread from a Pizzaiolo

  1. He also makes really amazing pizza, jam, walnut butter, and a plethora of other yummy edibles. \(=^.^=)/

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