Photo by Tree-Top Bakers

Larry Lowary may have retired from his 30-year career in baking bread professionally, but he and his partner Gerry Betz still work harder than most people. Every week, they bake bread and pastry in their small bakery, Tree-Top Baking, on the beautiful Whidbey Island to sell at the local farmers’ market to a loyal group of customers. Larry specializes in bread while Gerry is in charge for the other baked goods.

After all these years, Larry is still a man with a passion — or strong interest, as he prefers to call it — for bread.

This is a free preview of an article published in BREAD Magazine Issue 1.

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Photo by Tree-Top Baking

Larry had been running his typesetting and graphics arts company for 13 years when his world changed. Personal computers became popular, and his customers began using them for the work that they had previously been buying from Larry’s small business. Faced with a situation where he had to either rework the business model from scratch or pick a whole new direction, Larry was ready for a new challenge.

He decided he wanted to do work that was more basic, and — he thought — simpler: “As a typesetter, you’re at the beck and call of clients who are always in a rush and who make difficult last-minute changes. As a baker you produce a loaf of bread, sell it, and your customer consumes it that day, and hopefully comes back for more the next day — or week.”

Larry closed his shop, sold the equipment, and began a new career as a baker, following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

“My grandfather had retired before I was old enough to see him work — unfortunately I know very little about him and his work. But my mother, who was the oldest of her siblings, remembered. And we were brought up in a house where bread and bakery products were always around.” he says.

After taking a one-year course on bread, pastries, and experimental baking in one of the country’s oldest baking schools at the time, Dunwoody Technical Institute in Minneapolis, Larry went to bake bread for a small neighborhood bakery and a downtown boutique hotel in Minneapolis. He enjoyed the work, but wished to return to California one day.

“So, when I met Gerry at a baking convention in Minneapolis and learned he needed a baker, I offered to help him out. I figured I would work for him for several months at his bakery in Grover City, CA, and then move on to another job.” Larry says.

But plans change. Gerry sold his business at the end of the year, and the two moved to San Francisco where they worked for a German man who owned bakeries in San Francisco and Fairfield. From San Francisco, the journey continued to Seattle, where Larry and Gerry both found jobs at a small local upscale grocery chain called Larry’s Markets. Larry managed one of the company’s largest bakeries, and Gerry baked, then managed, then supervised the baking program for the chain.

As years passed, it became harder and harder to find trained bakers, and Larry found himself often pulling double shifts. Tired by the work load, he quit and went to office work for eight years, thinking he’d never return to baking.

Then, when he turned 65, Larry quit the office job. The two sold their Seattle home and became full-time residents on Whidbey Island where they had owned a weekend home for many years.

And Larry found that he was ready for some more baking.

This is a free preview of an article published in BREAD Magazine Issue 1.

Buy the issue to read the full article!

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