Marco Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco on Heirloom Wheat and What Makes Great Bread
Marco Bianco, Bread Baker
Lauren Saria Marco Biano at Pane Bianco in front of a portrait painted by his father, Leonard.
623 East Adams Street
This is the first part of our interview with Marco Bianco, the bread baker for the Bianco restaurants. Today, we get the scoop on Arizona's heirloom wheat and Bianco's thoughts about bread's big comeback. Be sure to return tomorrow when he dishes on his brother Chris -- the pizza savant -- as a child and how their parents met.
It doesn't take much to get Marco Bianco talking about the intricate science of bread baking. In fact, the simplest question (for example, "What do you do?") will be enough to set him on a speech about the importance of fermentation, perfect timing, and practice.
Lauren Saria Bianco's bread and a piece of wheat
As bread baker for Pizzeria Bianco, Trattoria Bianco and Pane Bianco, he's responsible for pulling between 200 and 300 crusty loaves of bread out of the oven at Pane Bianco every day. Though he does the baking for all the restaurants, he does most of his work out of Pane Bianco. Preparing that much bread means constantly working a day or two ahead, lots of planning, and a great sense of timing. Bianco compares baking bread to surfing: A baker must know when the bread's yeast has created the perfect amount of fermentation, the same way a surfer has to catch a wave just before it crests. Wait too long and the bread loses flavor; you've missed the wave. Go too early and it won't have the perfect texture; you get crushed.
"I'm a good baker," he'll admit. "But I'm doing it backwards"