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This morning, I had the chance to get up before the sun and go with my dad on an adventure. We made our way to Elk River, he talking about how he wanted to created this thirteenth installment for 15 Faces and as for me, I was trying to stay awake. But as we walked down the stairs and into the midst of the creation of artisan bread, I was no longer wishing I was still in my bed. The smells that filled the air, the yeast, the cinnamon rolls baking in the oven, it was invigorating. This is the story:
Long before the sun has even decided to get up, Garrett Jordahl is baking bread. It is his passion. His art. I was in the presence of an artist; a bread artist. Mr. Jordahl has been baking bread since he graduated from high school. He loves it. He does it, not for the profits, but for the quality, for the beauty of it. Eight years ago, he bought a dying bakery in Elk River, Minnesota. Now, he owns a thriving business, Diamond City Bread. As my dad spoke with him, continually asking question to keep the conversation going, Mr. Jordahl continued to prepare his bread, as if by instinct. The motions are automatic: frosting cinnamon rolls, buttering croissants, shaping scones; it is all second nature. As he speaks, Mr. Jordahl often mentions Frank. A man who has no last name but an enormous impact on this business, and especially it’s owner. Frank encouraged Mr. Jordahl to buy the dying bakery. He owns the pizzeria above, and that provides a lot of business for Diamond City. Mr. Jordahl’s credentials? A two week bread-baking course at Dunwoody Institute and a driving passion to create artisan bread for a small town. There are two employees who work here for the pre-light shift. Only two. And as we watched them work, it was evident that they are artists just as much as their employer. They, too have been here for years. This business seems to draw people in, and when they are there, they simply can’t leave. The atmosphere, the art, the people; when you walk down the stairs and into the business, it is impossible to leave without taking with you one of their beautifully created loaves, their masterpieces. This is a family. Diamond City Bread does not bake to make money, that is not its mission. This fantastic bread does do some traveling; many whole foods co-ops stock it, but they bake bread for the love of it. To serve those who want quality. And there certainly is quality created here. You can feel it when you walk in, you can hear it when Mr. Jordahl speaks, you can see it in his hands. Just as much as a painter creates a masterpiece or and writer creates a best seller, Mr. Jordahl and his employees create masterpieces in each and every loaf of bread made. This is an art just a beautiful as any other.
Anna Rose Nielsen