Annemarie Maitri Continues to Bloom
By Erica Krug | Photos By Erica Krug 0
Annemarie Maitri, owner of Bloom Bake Shop, already knows what it takes to dream up and launch a successful business. With two bakeries in the Madison area, Maitri's summers are booked with weddings, and there are lines out the doors of her storefronts with people waiting for Bloom's signature cupcakes, biscuits and savory tarts. But when Yelp, the corporation based out of San Francisco that publishes crowd-sourced reviews of businesses and also trains small business owners, contacted Maitri last fall about representing Wisconsin at their annual Coast-to-Coast conference, Maitri said yes.
"I saw it as a chance to make some new connections," and an opportunity to “dig into topics” that are important to small businesses, like employee retention. What Maitri didn't know is that she would come home from the conference with a passion for making a new food item for her bakeries (spoiler alert: it's ice cream!) and a renewed determination to help her community think differently about food.
Maitri, who was born in Japan and grew up in Florida with parents who love to cook, moved to Madison ten years ago and opened her first bakery on Parmenter Street in Middleton in February 2010. She quickly developed a loyal following of people eager to frequent a bakery that not only produced delicious baked goods—many of them vegan and gluten-free—but also supported local and socially responsible businesses. Maitri decided to expand her business in 2016 and found a location on Monroe Street in Madison that was perfect for a second Bloom Bake Shop.
“We are ambitious in the way that we source ingredients,” Maitri said. “We do it as ethically as possible.” For example, she uses flour from Lonesome Stone Milling in Lone Rock, Wis.; vanilla from Singing Dog in Eugene, Oregon, a company that shares profits with their vanilla farmers; and organic cinnamon from Red Ape Cinnamon, which donates five percent of proceeds to the protection of orangutans and their habitat.
Stacey Lansing, senior community manager for Yelp Madison, said that Maitri was an obvious choice for the conference, which each year brings 100 people from across the United States and Canada together for the two-day event. “Annemarie is a complete joy to know,” Lansing said. “She puts her heart and soul into her business.” In good company, Madison's Coast-to-Coast 2015 attendee was Gail Ambrosius of Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier—read more about Gail here.
At the conference Maitri was paired with other small business owners who fell into the “bakery and creamery” category which turned into Maitri spending three days with “creamery gals and nerding out,” she said. Upon returning home, she took a three-day short course on ice cream through University of Wisconsin-Madison and said she plans to start making small batch ice cream in time for the summer season. While Maitri is always thinking about what her customers would like to be eating, she's also always thinking about the bigger picture. She sees making ice cream “as a vehicle to incorporate more local ingredients,” which in turn means supporting more Wisconsin farmers.
Maitri also said she had a “serendipitous” experience running into Sam Mogannam, owner of Bi-Rite Market, at Tartine, the famous San Francisco bakery. Bi-Rite Market, in San Francisco's Mission District, is a B Corp, which Maitri said is a social and environmental responsibility certification for businesses that is comparable to a farm obtaining certified organic status. Certified B Corporations, which include King Arthur Flour, New Belgium Brewery and Patagonia, have complete transparency and meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, including treatment of employees. Meeting Mogannam and his chief financial officer, Jeff Griffin, confirmed her intention of becoming a B Corp and further ignited her passion for serving community.
“The Yelp trip gave me clarity,” Maitri said. She came home from San Francisco with a vision of opening a nonprofit school within the bakery. “I want to teach first generation college students, as I feel they are in that perfect space of being open-minded, but also at that critical point of being on their own to feed themselves. I want to be a part of the how and why of feeding our bodies.”
Maitri said that knowing how to cook is a lost art and that she believes cooking at home is not only better for your health, it is a sensory experience. “There is so much joy in cracking garlic, putting on a record, sizzling butter,” Maitri said. With a focus on environmentally friendly practices like cooking seasonally and composting, the curriculum for the nonprofit school is still in the planning stages, but with Maitri at the helm, it's bound to be a wild success.
Read more in “Annemarie Maitri Blooms Where She’s Planted,” from our Winter 2012 issue.