Nels Leader wants to ensure everyone has access to a good loaf of bread. “Bread is the type of simple, honest food combining flour, water, and salt,” says Leader. “And with care, creating this piece of food [is] nourishing to the world.”
Leader is the CEO of Bread Alone, a bakery that produces 150,000 loaves per week. The bakery was founded by his father in 1983. “The pursuit a long time ago might’ve been trying to create the perfect loaf,” Leader says. “The pursuit now is trying to feed a lot of people.”
Most of the brand’s production occurs in a newer factory in Kingston, New York, but the original factory in Boiceville, New York — which features two wood-fired brick ovens — is still used to make bread. Leader feels like those ovens are not just Bread Alone history, but cultural history. “There are very few active wood-fired ovens of this style that are still in use, even in Paris,” says Leader. “When my father convinced him to travel to the U.S. to build the oven, Andre LeFort, the multi-generation French oven Mason, said, ‘If I’m gonna travel all the way to the U.S., I might as well build two.’”
Leader feels that bakeries play vital roles in their communities, turning the original factory into a carbon-neutral one. “We electrified not just a few things, but everything in the building and then put 600 kilowatts of solar on the property to provide net the needs of the building,” says Leader.
Bread Alone provides bread and pastries to multiple cafes in the Hudson Valley. “It’s no longer about the perfect loaf,” says Leader. “It’s about bringing this experience to a lot more people.”
Watch the full video to see how Leader and his team produce 150,000 loaves of bread every week.