Photo by Angela Perez.
Master baker Lionel Vatinet in his La Farm Bakery kitchen in Cary.
Cary's beloved La Farm Bakery
is set to open an expanded space in the downtown center, allowing much-needed room for more production. Slated to open this winter at 220 West Chatham Street in the Sorrell Building, the 16,000-square-foot facility will feature an open-air kitchen that allows patrons to watch artisan bakers mix, shape, and bake breads by hand.
“This will allow our customers a new way to connect with their bread,” says French master bread maker Lionel Vatinet, who co-owns the business with his wife, Missy.
Missy reassures that there will be no changes to their current location at 4248 NW Cary Parkway in Preston Corners, other than adding new breads and pastries to the menu. In the seventeen years since La Farm opened, the couple has added a café and now supplies five Triangle-area Whole Foods Markets. "As guardians of quality products and service, it's time to expand," says Lionel, a two-time James Beard Foundation "Outstanding Baker" semifinalist.
In the ever-bustling, labyrinthine kitchen at La Farm, there simply isn’t much room to move. Adding to the activity, the bakery also serves as a test hub where Lionel and his team work with flours milled from new varieties of locally grown grains, connecting with farmers, millers, and even local university professors championing healthier grains.
“With more room,” says Lionel, “we can elaborate on that work, educate the public about all elements of bread making, and activate new talent.”
In fact, an additional 5,600 feet will be available to lease in the building, which the Vatinets hope will go to other food artisans. “This expansion is a long-term project, part of the development of food culture in this area," Lionel says. "I would love to see, for example, cheese makers and chocolate makers in the space.”
As downtown Cary grows, most recently with the boutique hotel Mayton Inn, Bond Brothers Beer Company, Crosstown Pub, and BREW at The Cary Theater, the couple is confident in the successful development of local artisanal food culture.
“In twenty-five years of bread making, I have learned one fundamental rule of being a craftsman,” says Lionel. "You adapt to what you have. To the ingredients available to you. I am exploring all of the possibilities with those ingredients at La Farm. Missy and I stand for both tradition and creativity.”