“Meet the Vendor” Stephen Luthi, Manager of swissbäkers
Tell us a little bit about your business.
I work for swissbäkers, a European-style bakery. You may say, ‘aren’t croissants French’ or ‘aren’t pretzels German?’ When it comes to that kind of thing, central Europe is all very mixed. But Swiss tend to have it a little leaner, so there’s a little less butter in the croissants and we don’t add sugar to the pretzels. Our home base is over in Allston. We are owned by Helene and Thomas Stohr. They grew up in Switzerland, and after they finished their apprenticeships and hospitality school training, they traveled around the world with some major corporations opening up restaurants and hotels. They ended up settling down in Boston and starting swissbäkers.
What is your favorite item you sell?
I love our almond croissants! They are filled with a marzipan, which is an almond paste, and it just melts in your mouth. It’s so good.
What has been your biggest career accomplishment or proudest moment?
Wow, I’m just starting out my career! I graduated in 2010; I started out bottom of the rung, minimum wage, baking bread. And now I’ve moved up to being a multi-unit manager – I manage this location as well as the Reading location. So my career accomplishment is moving up and immersing myself in this field.
Why were you interested in joining the market?
I definitely agree with the mission behind the market. The SLO food movement: sustainable, local, organic. I went to the Culinary Institute of America where they teach those things. I’ve followed along that path, I like local, I like handmade, I like no preservatives, and that’s also the swissbäkers’ culture.
What is your favorite thing about working at the market?
I like the community of the market. Everyone who works here, they’re not just hiding in their booth. They love to talk food with people and to really connect with the community as well as other vendors and work together. When you get the right person at each stall and you ask them questions, they will tell you all about that one product, that cheese, their meats, everything you could possibly want to know.
What do you like to do outside of the market?
Usually sleeping! I play a lot of contemporary board games, a lot of things like Settlers of Catan. There’s a great counterculture of people who play board games. That’s a lot of fun.
What was your favorite food as a child?
Chocolate Chip Cookies! Growing up, on the first snowfall of every winter, we would bake chocolate chip cookies. But we would bake 300-400 cookies all mixed by hand, all scooped by hand, all baked in our little, regular, normal oven. And then we would freeze them by bags of a couple dozen, and all throughout the Christmas season and winter we’d have cookies for parties and gifts. That’s what really got me into baking.
P.S. Please enjoy this recipe that is one of Steve’s favorite ways to use swissbäkers’ products
Pretzel Bread Pudding (courtesy of dessertfortwo.com)
- butter for ramekins
- 8 oz. soft pretzel bread
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- If you’re going to be baking these immediately, preheat the oven to 350.
- Butter two 10-oz ramekins with the butter.
- Slice the pretzel into thin slices about 1/2″ thick. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar vigorously until the mixture is pale yellow and falls from the whisk in ribbons, about 3 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk, half and half, and vanilla over medium until almost simmering; small bubbles will form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat. Slowly stream this mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
- Layer pretzel slices to cover the bottom of each ramekin. Sprinkle 1/4 of the chocolate chips in each ramekin. Add 1/4 of the cream mixture in each bowl. Repeat the process to finish the bread and custard mixture.
- Make a water bath for the puddings to bake in by placing the 2 ramekins in a small casserole dish and adding hot water to the pan until it comes up half-way on the sides of each ramekin.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the bread pudding puffs up and turns golden brown on top. Let cool in the water bath for a few minutes, then carefully lift the ramekins out of the water bath. Serve warm.