Restaurant Spotlight: La Farm Bakery

Q&A with La Farm Master Baker Lionel Vatinet

La Farm Bakery now has a permanent location in Southern Wake, offering their signature freshly baked breads and pastries, grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and soups.
La Farm Bakery now has a permanent location in Southern Wake, offering their signature freshly baked breads and pastries, grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and soups.

What started as a pop-up shop in 2021 has now become an established fixture in Fuquay-Varina.

La Farm Bakery at 1900 Broad Street delights patrons daily with European-style artisan pastries, freshly baked breads, sandwiches, and more. The business received Honorable Mention props as one of the area’s best bakeries in this year’s Maggy Awards: Best of Main & Broad.

5 Top-Selling Breads

A light sourdough made with a special combination of locally milled flours including NC Carolina Ground cold-stone ground cracked whole wheat

Made with Belgian white chocolate swirled in a French mini baguette

A slow-fermented sourdough marbled throughout with large parmesan and asiago chunks

A healthy, high-fiber bread packed with nine grains, including flax seed grains and seeds

Made Old World style with ripened bananas and sweetened batter

We caught up with French Master Baker Lionel Vatinet, who co-owns La Farm with wife, Missy Vatinet, to reflect on how the operation has thrived over the past 25 years since opening the first location in Cary.

Describe a typical day in the life as coproprietor of La Farm.

We have always said, “While you’re sleeping, we’re baking!” — and this continues to be true. While we do get more sleep at night these days thanks to our incredible team of bakers, we are still up very early every morning checking on our team and giving the dough a pat.

Once the initial baking is complete and our children are at school, we have R&D meetings with our teams, and our partners, such as Whole Foods Market. We try to visit every location each day. We’re fortunate to have such a strong team across our stores and in our bread truck and at area farmers markets. There is always work to do and bread to bake!

If you could go back in time, is there anything you would change about the business?

It’s been an honor to break bread with our community
every day, and on so many special occasions and holidays. Even since first opening and accepting IOUs in place of cash, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Do you have a particular process when it comes to developing new breads, pastries, or other baked goods?

While our bakers are deeply committed to maintaining the utmost nutrition and authenticity in our products, we also empower them to innovate regularly. Each month, through our Du Jour Features, they’re encouraged to explore new ideas and flavors, drawing inspiration from tradition while infusing creativity into their craft. This approach fosters a culture of excitement and fun around innovation.

What is your most requested recipe?

For years, people have expressed a keen interest in recreating La Farm Bakery in their own kitchens. Now, we’re thankful to be able to offer our book, A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker, where we share our most beloved breads.

Fast Facts About La Farm

6 Locations around the Triangle

200+ Employees

35+ Styles of bread produced annually

Named one of the 10 best artisanal bakeries in North America by USA Today

Ships products nationwide

What makes the white chocolate baguette such an addictive customer favorite?

It’s such a unique combination of sweet and salty. A savory baguette with white chocolate that caramelizes as it bakes, it’s been one of our most distinctive breads for decades.

Over the 25 years you have been in business, have you had any bread experiments that fell flat?

Every month we test many recipes, but only a couple make it into our assortment. It’s been exciting because each time we showcase a new grain like Einkorn, Carolina Gold Rice, or Heirloom Wrens Abruzzi Rye, for instance, our community has been so receptive and seem just as excited as we are for these high-fiber, nutrient-rich breads.

When we introduced our Einkorn bread, it was sold out in all locations by 10 a.m. We were beyond excited because not only do these breads taste good, but they are incredibly healthy.

What’s the most challenging part of running a multi-unit operation?

The most challenging part of running a multi-unit bakery, which operates 24 hours a day, is not getting to personally interact every day with all our customers and teams. Each individual is important to us. We’re thankful to have an incredible team of passionate bread lovers who represent our bakers while we’re sleeping.

Any plans to open additional locations?

We’ve listened closely to our customers who have expressed a desire for their own La Farm Bakery closer to their homes. In the past six months, we have opened stores in Fuquay-Varina and the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Our goal continues to be to better serve our Triangle-area communities.

Any other surprises you wish to share?

Our bakers are working on some exciting new grains, specifically Kernza. We’re studying and testing a lower sodium bread, and adding turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon, and ginger, which can support wellness. Get ready to taste many more new, healthy breads soon!

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