Some of the most creative forces in the food world have had previous lives. Most people don't realize Alice Waters was a Montessori teacher before she led the revolution toward seasonal, organic produce in California. As for Pamela Fitzpatrick, let's just be thankful she lost her job in film advertising in the 1980s.‚ If she hadn't, we might never have had the pleasure of eating her bread.
Fitzpatrick has been in charge of the bakery at Fox & Obel since the store opened, almost ten years ago. Since then, names like Red Hen and Labriola have come to dominate the local, artisanal bread scene. But over the last few years, regular shoppers in the River East gourmet store haven't been the only beneficiaries of her skills. Some of the best restaurants in Chicago have discovered her as well.
"When I was 16, I went to France with my family. I was staying with my mother's friends. I ate whole baguettes every day, afraid to try much more than that," said Jason Hammel, the co-owner of Lula Cafe in Logan Square and Nightwood in Pilsen. "Every time I hold one of Pamela's baguettes and feel that perfect Old World crust, and taste the tangy dough, I'm reminded of that discovery. There is no one who is as dedicated and as geeked-out about baking; no one as hard-working, and no one quite as nice as Pamela. Her whole team expresses that same craftsmanship and ambition."
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