When I wrote about the Juice Box a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded that I’ve never written about their neighbor in the Broadway building. Breadshed Cafe started operation at that address just over a year ago and became an instant hit with commuters, nearby businesses and the Old North and Fourth and Gill neighborhoods. Prior to that, Breadshed baked goods were found at the Market Square Farmers’ Market where you’ll find them both Wednesdays and Saturdays when the market starts this year (next week).
I spoke with owner Kymberle Kaser who gave me a bit of the background. She previously operated Sweet Delights and she did Live at Five (before it was at four) on WBIR for a time. It was her father who propelled her into the business by building a space for her to cook. She suspects he wanted more of his favorite banana nut bread. It’s her father you see on the Breadshed logo.
After cooking her foods in the kitchen at Ijams for a period, she had to scramble to find a place when they decided to close their kitchen facility. Friends began helping her search for a location and 1322 N. Broadway came open when a previous tenant suddenly vacated. The cafe was a hit from the beginning, with a line so long on opening day that friends had to jump behind the counter to help deal with the crowds. It was a good thing it was immediately successful, because Kymberle had put everything she had into opening. She said she’s that kind of person – all in and assuming it will work. It has.
Purity of ingredients and making everything from scratch are constant themes when she talks about the food. Everything is “chemical free,” and non-GMO. Her sugar is sourced from a Mexican farm which is solar powered. She composts and recycles virtually everything, producing less than a bag of trash each day. She tries extremely hard not to waste any food.
That she makes everything from scratch is obvious to any visitor as the entire kitchen – ingredients and all – are on display. She says the only thing she doesn’t make by hand is her filo dough, which she says is simply too labor intensive. Otherwise, whether it is a panini or a puff pastry, everything is made by her – even down to the vanilla extract she uses. She’s currently in need of a good pastry chef because the demand is more than she can meet.
Originally from Vero Beach, Florida, her father fell in love with the mountains on a vacation and decided to move the family here. They moved to Walland during her middle school years, and after a bit of moving about as an adult (she lived in Haiti for a year), she returned to the area, moving to Knoxville in 2007. For the last couple of years she’s been a resident of the Old North neighborhood.
She said food preparation is a gift that she realized she had early. She did have a corporate job at one point, but walked away because her heart wasn’t there. Affirming her gift are numerous stories: A Parisian man asked her to make him a baguette and proclaimed it as close to one from home as he had eaten in the US. A visitor from New York said his sandwich was the most like one he would get in New York and a customer at K-brew said he hadn’t smelled the kinds of baking smells coming from Breadshed since he was a child in Italy.
She enjoys pushing people’s palates and doing things differently than people might be used to. She said outside one small misstep, everything she’s made has found a following. The item that never caught on was an open-topped vegetable sandwich. Still, she intends to continue pushing local tastes forward and has plans to expand at some point in the future. She wants to do things that no one else is doing.
Very self-reliant, she grinds her own rye and wheat and insists what she’s accomplished others, “can do if you work hard.” In addition to being very careful not to waste food, she also barters with farmers at the market, often exchanging her bread for their fresh vegetables, which she uses in her food. She works with Spring Creek Farm, A Place of the Heart and others. You won’t find her seasonal menu shift until crops actually start coming in this summer.
In addition to “true artisanal small batch breads,” which include five different gluten free breads made in-house, she also offers a wide range of other foods, including breakfast foods, salads, rotating soups and eleven different “Slap Your Mama Amazing Paninis.” And then there are the amazing pastries. She plans to introduce sourdough bread in the near future.
Of course, my readers know I always ask about the coffee. While I didn’t have a chance to sample it, Kymberle assured me it is very high quality. She works with Javerde Coffee, a local roaster who travels to purchase his beans directly from his sources. She also has a selection of local teas and, like everything else, she assures me her drinks are chemical-free just like her food.
Current employees include Beezer and Charlotte, along with Kymberle’s son Zech. He’ll be leaving for the navy in a few months, but with the open kitchen, customers will quickly get to know future employees. Pass this article on if you know a good pastry chef. Check out their Facebook Page (and give them a “like”) for the latest news on the cafe. You’ll find them open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.