CENTRE STREET BAKERY Still Life with Flour

words DANIEL KANY  |  photography DARREN SETLOW

Baker Rachel Langmaid’s whole-grain sourdough loaves.


From the left:
Tori Timko, co-owner; Rachel Langmaid, baker; Aaron Park, co-owner and executive chefAaron Park is probably best-known regionally as the proprietor of Henry and Marty, a highly acclaimed restaurant on Maine Street in Brunswick. But Park lives in Bath, where he was recently re-elected to the City Council.

“Bath is a great, small little city,” he says. “I have always wanted to have a business here. For me, it’s about being part of the community. For years, I had wanted to open a bakery but I needed a team.”

Then he met Tori Timko. Timko visited the state as a leaf peeper in 2017. As she recalls, “I immediately fell in love with Maine and Bath in particular. Bath has been the source of so many wonderful memories from my life, I couldn’t stay away. So last October, I quit my corporate career and moved here. My dream was to open a bakery. My grandfather and his father had a bakery and the women in my family were always independent business owners. I got bit by the bug when I was 14, the summer my grandfather taught me how to make bread.”

Timko soon heard about Park. “He had the same dream,” she says. “We met. We clicked. And soon we were developing a business plan” for what was to become Centre Street Bakery. Park remembers the emotional moment when he “realized it was a this-is-really-going-to-happen thing.”

A friend introduced Park to Rachel Langmaid. Their first meeting took place sitting on the grass at Bath’s farmers’ market overlooking the Kennebec River. Langmaid was a baker and farmer who had also recently relocated from the West Coast. “Rachel was the missing piece. I immediately called Tori to come join us,” he recalls.

“This is like getting drafted by a major league team,” says Langmaid. “Tori and Aaron have everything set up and I get to go bake stuff: This is what I love.”

The team was set. Timko is the manager and co-owner who brings a corporate career’s worth of creative project management, marketing and budget experience to the table, Park is the executive chef and co-owner and Langmaid is the full-time head baker.

“We’re a community bakery,” says Timko. “We’re really here for Bath. We believe in Bath. The downtown association is an awesome group of business owners. I have never seen such a successful main street.

“I am not hands-on with the bread in the bakery, but my heart and soul is to provide to our customers delicious, healthy and nutritional breads and foods. I swear my body runs on flour, water, yeast and salt,” says Timko.

Locals responded to the idea of a bread bakery with enthusiasm to the point of exuberance.

But there’s more. There has to be, says Park. “A bread bakery alone is tough. A natural companion to it is good food and that’s what I bring to the table. I’m going to be doing grab-and-go food. People’s eating habits have shifted. They don’t have as much time to cook in their busy lives.”

You can practically feel the excitement in Park’s voice as he talks about the possibilities. “We are going to do fresh salads. I have always struggled to get a decent salad for lunch. And we’ll do bread to match food. When I make hummus, we’ll bake pita. I want to do baked beans on Saturdays—that means brown bread. When I do lasagna, we’ll have garlic knots. I want to have fun with this, like ‘Hot Turkey Tuesdays’ and, of course, dips and spreads will always be available. For example, I will be doing a caramelized onion spread with a crispy pork belly.”

Co-Owner/Executive Chef Aaron Park’s BiBimBop with GoChuChung drizzle:
Sticky rice, pickled carrots, wilted spinach, bean sprouts, wakame, bulgogi 
(Korean flavored flank steak) topped with a sunny side egg and sesame seeds.

Vegetable Paella with saffron rice, local vegetables, aioli and whole-grain sourdough bread.Timko’s talk about breads is no less tantalizing: “Baguettes, regional favorites like anadama, sourdoughs, brioche, challah and then sandwich breads like great-grandma’s—white, wheat, molasses, oat and so on.”

Committed to an approachable, community bakery, Langmaid says, “I love the idea of introducing things to people that they haven’t tried, or homemade versions of foods they haven’t had in a long time. We’re all going into this with the idea that we want an accessible bakery. We don’t want good bread to be intimidating to people, or for Centre Street Bakery to feel too fancy or out of place. Good food shouldn’t be intimidating. We’re not planning a space expedition—we’re baking bread. People have been doing that for thousands of years.”

Park agrees: “It’s a really good team. We complement each other and we’re on the same page regarding commitment to the community. For example, we’ll help support the Midcoast Community Alliance, whose primary goal is to work with young people regarding youth anxiety and suicide prevention. One of their major goals is to provide a safe spot for teens—we would be donating bread to them. Community outreach is key. Henry and Marty is open for dinner and I’m still doing that. What I’m giving up is sleeping. As long as I can get my pickleball game in every day, I’m good.”

Langmaid is a self-described introvert, and baking recharges her batteries:  “One of the things I love about being a baker is that I have time to myself (hours, sometimes!) to just focus on a project and savor the time alone with my thoughts. I am a tactile person, and baking engages all the senses. I love that it requires thinking about something from many different aspects—mathematically, chemically, chronologically, physically, artistically and, in the case of yeasted doughs, even biologically. I’ve heard that playing a musical instrument is the best thing a person can do to forge and maintain neural pathways, but I imagine baking must also be pretty high on that list.”

Park sees Centre Street Bakery as a gathering place. “I just read an article about how bakeries in France were the center of small towns. It’s a tough story since many of them are closing. But Maine is growing in terms of food—restaurants, farmers’ markets and so on. I think there is a whole new energy here. There are a lot of wonderful, synergistic things happening, and particularly right here in Bath.”

centrestreetbakery.com
29 Centre Street
Bath, Maine

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