For those who are in the know, Carissa Waechter is virtually a household name on the East End. And for those who don’t, it is only a matter of time before they find out.
The talent behind Carissa’s Breads — found at various farmers markets and restaurants across the East End all summer long — recently caught up with The Express about what makes her tick and her passion for all things baking.
How would you describe “Carissa’s Breads”?
Local, sustainable, food made with care and attention, somebody’s actually doing it, somebody you can put a face to and find accountable and is always good — but I never know how to word that because all these buzzwords are so overused. This is just the natural way to do things.
How do you come up with your ideas?
I don’t know how my mind works, but I’ll go through waves where all these ides come to me and I write it all down, and go back to it and say, “This is a great idea,” or, “This will never work.” Sometimes I’ll see something and want to put a different twist on it. It’s hard to explain.
But often, I get a lot of ideas, oddly, in the shower. I’ll have to get out of the shower and write it all down before I forget. And right before I go to bed, too.
What is your favorite bread to make?
I can’t answer that question, it’s like asking which kid is your favorite. Sometimes you have an answer, but you don’t want to hurt the other one’s feelings. Or sometimes I know what I make more money on, or what’s easier to get out, or what’s looking really good that day.
My bestseller changes a lot. The one that has become shockingly really well received is this salty, soured pickled rye — and that is super popular this year. I ask my friend Pete to grow rye and a sour culture started by a fisherman in Southampton in 1999. And I use pickled purée and a local pickle that I use from Backyard Brine. I met him selling at farmers markets.
I started doing this pickled rye and selling at farmers markets — and the chefs liked it! When chefs pick up on it, that’s a good sign. But I don’t know, people always go for different stuff. I try to keep everyone happy, and me. It’s definitely a creative outlet for me and I always really enjoy working with my hands. If I don’t bake for a while, forget it. It’s something therapeutic for me.
What is your favorite dish to make, outside of baked goods?
I really, really, really, really get a kick out of when either I or someone from my team is working a farmers market and it’s one of those days and you trade people for bread and come home with fish, cheese, wine, salt and a basket of vegetables. Whatever you can make out of that, that gets me so excited.
You had quite the career in Manhattan, more than 10 years as a pastry chef. Do you ever miss it?
When I’m in the city for some reason, I just feel like I need to buy something or have something or doing something. And when I’m out here, it’s very chill. You can ride your bike to the farmers market and be happy. That is what I love.
For more information about Carissa’s Breads, visit carissasbreads.com.