Emergency Bake Sale
And speaking of the corner of Lake and Hennepin, everybody who remembers Pam Sherman's bakery on that corner, raise your hand. Now, with your other hand, get out your checkbook, because the time for that non-cynical part of the holidays is upon us--for real.
Sadly, sadly and scarily, scarily, Pam Sherman, one of the founders of the Minnesota food renaissance, has contracted a rare form of liver cancer. Even though Sherman has already started treatment, a life devoted to food and food service means she doesn't have the gargantuan piles of money you need to make it through something like this. On the positive side, the entire food scene in the Twin Cities has banded together to try to do something about it, and has put together what looks to be the biggest bake sale in the history of bake sales. So you suddenly have the opportunity to both help out a fellow food lover in need and get some of the best baked goods the Twin Cities have to offer in the bargain.
The Bake Sale of All Bake Sales will be this Saturday, December 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Chino Latino, 2916 Hennepin Ave. S., which was the original site of Sherman's bakery.
Now, Pam Sherman, for those of you who moved here after her bakery had already closed, like me, was a pioneer in local food. "She really did experience great successes in the food world here," Molly Broder told me in a very touching interview I did to find out about the bake sale. Broder co-owns the two south Minneapolis Broders' locations with her husband and has been in a book group with Sherman, and I guess I'll pretty much let her tell the story, since she knows it: "With Pam's great successes, she also took great risks and incurred great losses," says Broder, "which is unfortunately one of the things that happens in this business. In the meantime, she just raised the bar across the board for food life here. She started raising the bar from a culinary standpoint with the New French Café. The restaurants here then were really old-school--the Rosewood Room, Murray's, the Lexington. When Sherman opened the New French Café, it was a revelation. It was like, 'Oh my God, finally! A place that doesn't serve orange au gratin potatoes. It's a miracle.' It was the New French that started the whole Warehouse entertainment district. Then she started the Sherman Bakery; prior to that all the bakeries in town pretty much did white bread stuff. She started making the best croissants on the planet, really good baguettes, the best chocolate cake around," says Broder. (The current New French Bakery descended from that original project, but Sherman isn't involved with it.) Sherman expanded her bakery into several bakeries and cafés, which, I've been told, were famous for their soups and quiches. "She started with nothing," says Broder. "And in this business you're living on the edge all of the time. If your purchases and labor costs inch up enough, you can just go bust. The Pam Sherman bakeries were open for 15 years," says Broder, and then the establishments all suddenly closed. "They raked her over the coals in the newspaper," remembers Broder. "Instead of what she accomplished, the story was about how she had to close her doors. People did lose their jobs, but nobody lost more than Pam Sherman. She lost everything," says Broder. "She raised the bar. She changed the climate in this city. Anybody who works in food, works from a base partly built by Pam. Anybody who knows her has a great deal of respect for what she's done, and now that she's in a bad way with her cancer, we've at least got a little opportunity to give something back. I only wish she could hear all the great things people have been saying to me about her," sighs Broder.
So, who exactly is donating baked goods? Like I said: Everyone who's anyone, which, as of this writing, includes Aquavit, Alma, Anna Marie's, the Art Institutes school, B.T. McElrath Chocolates, A Baker's Wife, the Birchwood, Breadsmith, Broders' Cucina, Byerly's, Lunds, Café 128, Café Barbette, Café Brenda, Cafe Latté, café un deux trois, Chet's Taverna, Classic Provisions, D'Amico, Francesca's, the Franklin Street Bakery, Gardens of Salonica, Great Harvest Bakery, Kowalski's, Kramarczuk's, Ristorante Luci, Lucia's, Marimar, Marshall Field's, McGlynn's, the SP?*IT'S OK NOW: Minikhada Club, the New French Bakery, Rudolph's Bar-B-Que, Scandia Bake Shop, Soba's, Taste of Scandinavia, Turtle Bread, the University Club, Vincent, W.A. Frost, the Wedge, and Whole Foods. More might be forthcoming. In addition to baked goods, there will also be note cards, gift baskets, cookie trays, freezer-ready foods, a raffle, and more.
We all know that living in the biggest small town in America can be, shall we say, trying. The second you dump a coffee in your lap, you will run into someone you wish you wouldn't. You have neither the guaranteed anonymity of a megalopolis, or the I-give-up of a small town. Yet here is the time when living in the biggest small town can be great: I know you all can get to Hennepin and Lake. I know you all want a cake from Vincent, and you know you have less than six degrees of separation from Pam--you are perhaps two baguettes away, if even that--and now you have the opportunity to put community into action. Raising Dough for Pam Sherman Bake Sale and Benefit; December 7, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Chino Latino, 2916 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.824.7878; www.raisingdoughforpamsherman.com.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.