MJ Coe Dishes on His Love of Wonder Bread and Baking to the Willy Wonka Soundtrack
This is part two of our interview with MJ Coe, the bread and butter behind MJ Bread and creative genius behind the wood-fired creations at Federal Pizza. To find out the weirdest thing that MJ ate (or rather, couldn't eat) and where his hatred of Cupcake Wars stems from, check out part one of the interview.
Tastemakers 2012- 97: MJ Coe
What are the hours for a baker who's also a small-business owner?
It's a blatant disregard for sleep. There have been nights where I get a call at 2 a.m. because our mixer isn't working and I have no idea how to do electrical work. Electrical scares the Hell out of me but it needs to be fixed. So you look at the puzzle, find a solution, and fix it.
And what's the biggest challenge (besides operating on no sleep)?
I think the big battle you face as a small business owner is you're either an artist or an entrepreneur. It's a constant back and forth. The business side is something you always have to learn. And I don't care who the person is, you can't wear both caps. If you try to juggle both at the same time, one side always suffers. especially when you grow with multiple locations
If I weren't baking I'd be...:
Katie Johnson Federal Pizza on Central
I'd love to go into physics, astronomy, math. I love to solve problems. I've been trying to take my Mensa test for the last couple of months. Last three test dates I had to cancel because of work.
What's on your baking playlist?
I have everything, man; from Rachmaninov to hardcore rap to the Muppets. My favorite thing to listen to when I'm working is the Willy Wonka soundtrack with Gene Wilder singing -- it's fantastic.
One of the biggest misconceptions about you:
We're [MJ and Tammie Coe] not big foodie people. A lot of people have this misconceived idea that we go out and eat foie gras all the time. But we'll just go to Pino's Pizza for a to-go box of spaghetti and meatballs to eat on the sofa watching TMZ.
So you're kind of over all that over-the-top food...:
I just I love simple things. I love Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread with American cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich? You're living like a rock star, man. And if someone uses cheddar -- urgh, it just riles me. Because it's not what I grew up with.
Your advice for now and future chefs?
Don't just get into this business looking for fame, it will always comes back to slap you in the face. I mean it's good to have that success but it's not a driving force. Loving what you do is what pushes you. Don't lose sight on why you got into the field in the first place.