It was just over a year ago when the opportunity arose to sit down and chat with Shelby Kibler, his wife, Julie, and their young son Esau. He hosted a lovely summer supper for us, and at that time, we discussed his vision for Field & Fire Bakery. This is a Throw-back Thursday post celebrating the bakery’s one year anniversary in the Grand Rapids, MI Downtown Market.
Kibler is a former manager, baker, and product developer at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI, working there for 12 years total. Originally from Stanton, MI, Shelby started out as an apprentice to a pastry chef in Sterling Heights, MI. He learned his bread baking craft at Grand Central Baking in Portland, OR and then during his two, six-year stints at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. Between those, Shelby worked in restaurants in San Francisco and Davis, CA.
The wood-fired oven bakery is different than any other that I know of in the area. We’ve been enjoying that difference all year! The list of products is not the difference: high quality artisan breads and sweet and savory pastries, such as Michigan blueberry or ham and cheese croissants.
But, Field and Fire is about healthy lifestyles. “The three of us live healthy lives, and I want to support others in that lifestyle,” said Kibler. “There will be very little sugar in the products with lots of whole grains.” There are both yeasted and sour dough breads; his real passion is sour dough.
“Getting the right ingredients takes time and commitment; my vision is to connect with farmers to grow the grains that I need to mill fresh daily,” said Kibler last year. “There will be as much organic and local ingredients as I can find, as I make connections to piece the puzzle together over the next couple of years.” He’s already made good on his word by purchasing Michigan-grown, organic grains in Ferris Organic Farm in Eaton Rapids.
So far they are pleased with the quality of their products and the warm reception they’ve received from the people of Grand Rapids. Their breads are made with mostly whole grains, mostly sourdough, and 100% organic grains, seeds, milk, and milled flour. “Our newest addition is our whole grain, sourdough, wood-fired Cinnamon Raisin Bun. No one else is making that,” said Julie Kibler, who does marketing for the bakery. “People love it. We love it!” Continuing, she said “We feel a little sad that the pizza didn’t work out, but you never know what the future holds”
As a baker, Shelby’s goal is to produce products with the best flavor and results while staying true to his food values. So, what did they serve us for dinner? A lovely chickpea stew, side of beets, his own home-brewed beer, and, of course, bread. He mentioned that the first bread served was three days old. I thought ‘who serves a food blogger old bread?’ Shelby Kibler does, because he knows it still tastes great. And, that was the point. The other bread was a fresh-baked 10-grain sourdough – also awesome.
Field & Fire bread is available beyond the bakery in the Downtown Market. The first outside company to champion them was Nourish Organic Market in Grand Rapids. After that, restaurants started to ask for it. Eat Field & Fire bread at these Grand Rapids Restaurants:
Nourish Organic Market
The Green Well
Bistro Bella Vita
Field & Fire Hours –
Learn more on their Facebook page.
Listen here for my interview with Kibler about stone ground wheat.
Listen here for my interview with Kibler about sour dough bread.