Now Playing

In addition to pastries and hearth breads, Matt Palmerlee serves vegetable-forward dishes for lunch and dinner. Photo by Maggie Tindall 

Breaking Bread

by Elizabeth Harper | Jezebel magazine | December 20, 2018

Recently opened in Ponce City Market, Root Baking Co. delivers the heirloom baked goodies Atlantans have been craving. Here, founder Chris Wilkins (who started the biz with wife Nicole Lewis-Wilkins) dishes on what it’s like to live a day in the powerhouse couple’s flour-filled life. @rootbakingco

3:30am I roll out of the bed and head to the bakery. Waking up early isn’t necessarily fun, but baking is, and, after enough time, you get used to the hours. There’s a lot to do in the early hours, and it’s a peaceful, wonderful time to be in a bakery. Nicole will wake up around 6am and go to an early kickboxing class.

4am We live right near the BeltLine, so I ride my bicycle to work most days. From 4 to 6:30am, we’re baking bread, mixing doughs for the day, baking pastries and brewing coffee for the folks in Ponce City Market.

8am Nicole has a 9-to-5, but on the weekend, she meets me at the bakery and we eat breakfast together. Most mornings we love kefir-fermented oatmeal with some good local fruit and a cup of coffee, but, every so often, neither of us can resist a freshly baked croissant or morning bun.

2:30pm We have an incredibly talented team of bakers, chefs and front-of-house staff, and I love both jumping in on bakery projects and getting out from behind the bread bench and talking to folks in the cafe. We learned from working the weekly farmers markets in Charleston that interacting with the people who buy our bread is the single most important part of owning a bakery. We felt privileged to be a part of our customers’ lives, and it’s important to us to carry that spirit to Ponce.

4:30pm I check in with our team, make sure the starters are taken care of, bake the afternoon baguettes for the folks heading home from work and head out. I like to get some exercise after I leave the bakery, before I go home. Going for a run after work helps me get a clearer perspective on the day and de-stress.

7pm Strangely enough, we relax by cooking dinner together and sharing a glass of wine while we cook. We’re trying to learn more about wine, so, at the moment, we’re drinking our way through different parts of France. We even have our own rating system: If we love a wine, it’s a ‘hell yeah’; if we don’t love it, it’s a ‘meh’ or a ‘nah.’ We’re amateurs, but it works. Nicole is truly an amazing cook, and our palate is diverse and adventurous. Though, on most nights, it’s something either Italian or Jamaican.

9pm We finish the day with a bit of reading. Nicole loves true crime; I’m way too into spy novels.