In search for somewhere both simple and fun, cake-decorating and baking pair Josh and Jess Pickens are making the move to Ridgewood. Sometime in early November, they plan on opening the brick and mortar home of Millers and Makers, a Smorgasburg pop up they began earlier this year.
“It feels very quaint, almost like Greenpoint,” Josh Pickens tells Bushwick Daily about the spot, near the rustle of the Forest Street M station. There, the Bushwick couple will take the place of the recently departed Gwendolyn’s Corner Shoppe, Crystal River Williams and Denise Plowman’s second and short-lived Ridgewood bakery. Near Plowman’s successful bar Julia’s and the newish lifestyle knick-knack shop Stay Forever, Millers and Makers joins a busy corner of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
Career culinary gig-workers, both view the customer-facing location less as the beginning of a run-of-the-mill small business empire and more as a place to creatively engage with bread and other baked goods. Josh says they plan to run a grab-and-go cafe service on weekends, and Jess will take cake-decorating consultations by appointment on weekdays.
Both are graduates of the Manhattan campus of the Culinary Institute of America but spent their early baking years in San Diego before moving back to New York. Jess found jobs in cake studios and Josh developed recipes for hot spots in Williamsburg. He says he is still working with a start-up that aspires to use A.I. to customized modern-sounding ovens.
A life-changing experience that Josh will bring to the bakery was his discovering the life-affirming joy of milling grain, something he had long-contemplated before dropping the change for a Mockmill. He now swears by it and can describe in great detail how it opened his eyes to flavor combinations beyond a whole wheat what-have-you loaf.
One discovery, a purple corn polenta sourdough loaf, got a note in a Gothamist listicle back in May. (“the most exciting baked goods in the game…Give these guys an everyday location, please!”) Another, the slightly rye country loaf, will sell on weekends, along with offerings of rolls, cookies and other such goods.
Josh aims for a limited, flexible menu, in step with this decade’s minimal style. The bakery can whip up a hearty pie for Thanksgiving dinners to Christmas rolls — all organic, made in small batches and consumed ravenously like all good baked goods should be.
Photos courtesy of Millers and Makers
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