If you haven’t yet met Jerome Coelho of Sidney & Son Bread Company yet, you’re missing out. The Hillcrest native has gone from full-time pathology technician to full-time baker, and he couldn’t be happier.
He began making a name for himself in the farmer’s market circuit over a year ago, but this summer marks his first time going in full force. That’s great news for bread lover’s because you enough chances to catch him throughout the week as he works Westover Hills on Tuesdays, Hillcrest and the Dog Town Market on Saturdays, and Bernice on Sundays. Plus, he also takes special orders through his Facebook page – within reason – and bakes bread for the beloved WunderBus.
He says, “It turned out to be just the biggest blessing because all of the sudden I’m at the farmer’s market. I have always come to the farmer’s market and loved it. I used to have a job at a desk or behind a counter or in a lab somewhere, but I like dealing with people, and here I get to talk to all sorts.”
Coelho grew up in a bakery, as his mom cooked bread for many local restaurants – like Trio’s and Cassineli’s. He says, “This was before Boulevard and other bakeries popped up. … I baked my first bread when I was eight years old.”
That early introduction even affects him to this day, as he says, “Unfortunately I can’t smell bread anymore, so I don’t really know if it tastes any good. I just take people’s word for it.”
He began this venture about a year ago, with the initial plan to strike into the market scene and go from there. The name Sidney & Son Bread Company actually comes from his mother’s business.
“Her business was called Sidney’s Breads – she didn’t want me to use her name, and she didn’t want me to start baking bread either – so I did both,” he laughs. “She totally supports it, though,” he adds.
If you like French Bread but you want something that won’t cut your gums, you really have to check out Coelho’s product. He says, “For some reason no one else has a soft French Bread, so I made one.”
He also offers a few other items – Challah, Shortbread, Jalapeno Bread and more – making sure to be as unique as he can. Coelho began experimenting with bread braiding not too long ago, so his loafs aren’t just delicious, they’re pretty, too.
He explains, “There’s someone else that sells Sourdough so I don’t do Sourdough, there’s someone else who sells a bunch of weird funky rolls, so I don’t do weird funky rolls. I try to do something different that nobody else has just to be fair. I want all of us to be more of a community.”
And, thus far, he’s glad to be a part of such a vibrant food community. He says, “We’ve got a great scene. I go somewhere else, to another city, and I’m kind of disappointed in what I get. Arkansas has great food.”
Plus, he sees the buying local movement alive and well, especially through the markets. “People will come in the rain when it’s cold and actually buy stuff, and even though it’s not necessarily a whole market worth of people, it’s still cool. They get it.”
Catch Coelho this weekend at his various markets. Try the Challah – especially if he’s got a flavored option – you’ll be glad you did.