Two veteran chefs have united on a project that will make Houston's coffee shops and farmers markets a little sweeter. Chef Jeff Weinstock (Brennan's, Siphon Coffee, Black Hill Meats) and baker Max Torres (Slow Dough Bread Co., Weights + Measures) have launched a business with the goal of increasing the number of pastry and charcuterie options in Houston.
Dubbed Cake & Bacon, the duo's products have begun to emerge at local coffee shops like Dandelion Cafe in Bellaire and Southside Espresso in Montrose, with more coming in the next few weeks. Operating out of a commercial kitchen space in the Fondren Southwest neighborhood, Weinstock and Torres set themselves apart by using fresh ingredients for their pastries (no frozen dough) and Black Hill heritage pigs for their charcuterie.
The idea is to produce a range of high-quality products that serve as a draw for the businesses that serve them. Although they're starting small, the chefs aim to offer Houston restaurants a new alternative to more well-known bread purveyors likes Slow Dough and Kraftsmen Baking.
For his part, Torres is making a full line of pastries, including viennoiserie (laminated doughs such as croissants), quick breads like carrot and banana, and artisan bread. Cakes, including both coconut and chocolate whiskey, will come soon.
"Heath (Wendell, owner of Slow Dough) and I always used to talk about the village baker when we were opening Weights. We wanted to be the village baker," Torres tells CultureMap. "That’s still what I want to be. I want to be that small entity that provides for our community at farmers markets, wholesale. I’d like to get into restaurants like Pax Americana, Bernadine’s, Southern Goods."
Weinstock says he developed his interest in charcuterie during his time working for Black Hill, honing his craft under the guidance of owner Felix Florez. Currently, the bacon he's producing is Italian-style pancetta, but traditional American bacon will come, too.
"What I’m trying to do is break down whole legs or whole animals and cure it myself here," Weinstock says. "Then put those products into our products, so everything is done in house."
That means Cake & Bacon will soon sell kolaches made with Torres' dough and Weinstock's sausage, among other treats. When they began selling retail products at area farmers markets, Weinstock plans to offer two pound packs of homemade sausages to sell, too.
"We’ll customize for chefs in town," Torres says. "Basically, whatever they need, we’ll try to provide it for them."