Ep. 059 – The Twists and Turns in the Life of Food with Michael Kalanty, Author of How to Bake Bread and Consultant

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Today we feature Michael Kalanty, who is a man of many talents. And you learn why that’s the case.

This interview is very well, timeline heavy. You learn step by step and the twists and turns between being an architecture student, chef, pastry chef, bread author, and lastly, consultant. You will learn the key points on how these happen and the catalysts that make Mike what he is today.

What I love in this interview is the twist and turns throughout his life. I really dug in deep on his career path. Questions like Why did he switch into food, why did he decide to write a book, how hard it was to make a book….

And most of all, you’ll learn the best, most tangible advice on how to make good bread.

About Michael

Before Michael Kalanty served as Director of Education for the California Culinary Academy (“CCA”) in San Francisco from 1996 to 2000, he’d already built and sold a successful catering business and pastry shop in his native Philadelphia. While developing the artisan bread course for the Baking & Pastry Program at the CCA, he fell under the spell of yeast. He returned to the kitchen and has been teaching, writing, and baking bread ever since.

He wrote his first book, How To Bake Bread: The Five Families of Bread®, in 2009 “because there wasn’t a detailed book for culinary students that was written in a student-friendly style.” The book went on to win the Gourmand Award for Best Bread Book in the World at the Paris Cookbook Fair the following year.

It’s been adapted by hundreds of culinary schools across the country, most notably the Art Institute which has 42 campuses nationwide. It’s been translated into Brazilian Portuguese and is the standard text for professional culinary schools in Brazil.

Michael’s track record in Bakery Innovation dates back to when the field was merely called product development. Many of his formulas for breads, crackers, and cookies can be found on grocery store shelves for clients like Pepperidge Farm and General Mills.

He works with Clean Label initiatives to create healthy food choices that maximize flavor. Google Campus serves one of his gluten-free cookies.

Michael is a certified master taster and licensed sensory panel moderator. He helps food innovation teams work effectively with consumer research to develop flavor and texture profiles that define food brands. As a teaching tool for his clients, he developed the “Aroma & Flavor Wheel for Bread”, for which he holds the copyright.

He speaks often at conferences and seminars. His report on bakery trends, “What Is Up with Bread!”, is a mainstay on event programs for the International Association of Cooking Professionals and the American Culinary Federation.

Michael lives in San Francisco. He’s taught baking courses across the U.S., in France, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. He teaches hands-on classes at the San Francisco Cooking School and several cooking schools in the Bay Area. How To Bake MORE Bread: Modern Breads/Wild Yeast is his second book.


This episode is sponsored by FoodGrads, an interactive platform for the Food & Beverage Industry, which focuses on closing the gap between students/recent graduates and employers. With a broader mission to attract and retain people to a meaningful career in food. From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to Plant Managers, QA Technicians to Dieticians or R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion–there’s something for everyone in Food—and they will help you find it.

Join FoodGrads for support, mentorship and guidance to start your career. You’ll see an amazing new website in Spring 2017. Just go to foodgrads.com

Key Takeaways

  • How Gothic architecture made him fall in love with bread
  • How hard work and passion is noticeable to chefs
  • The journey of making a book
  • How a book can make a great business card

Question Summary

One Sentence: I teach people how to bake bread
What’s the most interesting place you’ve taught people to bake bread?: Paris cookbook fair. Mike’s book won 2011’s award: How to Bake Bread
Steps to take to where you are today: Mathematician to Architecture to Chef to Pastry Chef, to Author to Consultant
Did you take any formal education?: No
What age did you switch to food?: 26 or so
What year did you decide to write a book?: 2000. The “end of the world” made him think about his goals in life. One of them was to write a book.
Brazillian Breakfast: Espresso and Asprin
Artisan bakers in the Bay Area
Was it hard to make a book?: It took 10 years for me to make a book. I would never discourage anyone from writing a book because you can learn about yourself.
My Food Job Rocks: I can do a lot of cool projects
New Food Trends and Technologies: Clean Label
Tips on making good bread: Make one recipe for a year. You learn how it behaves differently in different environments
French Country Bread: Pan de Compania
What’s one thing in the food industry you’d like to know more about: Working with Herloom Grains. Grinding grains fresh
Favorite Kitchen Item: My hands
Favorite Book: The World According to Garp
Any Advice for anyone to get into the culinary field: We work hard, we sweat
Where can we find you next?:  Going to Boston next.
New book: How to Bake More Bread

Other Links

Baking bread in a Dutch Oven
Grocery Store Delivery
Cricket protein Powders
Digital Scale
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown Rice Syrup Powder/Flour
Bean to Bar Chocolate

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