A Day at Metropolitan Bakery

May 25, 2012

We're celebrating the artisans, writers, makers, and more who make up the diverse and inspiring world of food.

Today: Wendy Smith Born shares a day at Metropolitan Bakery with Supply Chain, from baking bread in the wee hours of the morning to shopping for cheese at the local farmer's market.

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Wendy Smith Born is the co-owner of Metropolitan Bakery, a Philadelphia institution since it was founded in 1993. Together, she and pastry chef James Barrett have created a home for their quality, artisanal bread and other baked goods, as well as local jams, cheeses, and spreads. In addition to their bakery, Wendy and James co-authored the Metropolitan Bakery Cookbook, brimming with recipes for their signature cookies, cakes, pies, and more. 

Here she shows us what a typical Saturday looks like around the bakery, along with pastry chef James Barrett -- their days start early.


6:00am: "James begins the day at Metropolitan’s production bakery on Marlborough Street, scoring bread and helping load the loaves and pizzas into the Metro ovens for delivery to our stores by late morning."

: "I arrange bread and pastries and set up the store for the busiest day of the week. We sell hundreds of loaves as well as croissants, Danish, and a vast array of sweets. Saturday is a day when people enjoy their favorite treats and have time to ponder what they will make for an evening meal."

: "James helps our manager, Dane, prepare pizzas for baking so that they can be delivered to the stores in time for the lunchtime rush."

: "Nothing like a happy customer!"

: "I set off for the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market to pick up cheese for the stores: Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville, New Jersey makes a delectable Buttercup Brie, and Cranberry Creek Farm in Cresco, Pennsylvania produces a lovely fresh goat cheese. Our customers will have the cheese to enjoy with their Metro loaves by late afternoon. While at the Market, I stop at some of my favorite vendors and stock up my own kitchen for the week: the Good Spoon for amazing soups made with local ingredients -- today the asparagus soup was to die for! Davidson Exotic Mushrooms in Kennett Square has exquisite mushrooms -- shiitake, maitake, cremini -- all picked the evening before, and the produce vendors have essential ingredients like arugula, spring herbs, and asparagus. Sustenance for the week!"

: "Even on Saturdays a small business has banking and business to tend to -- I try to catch-up so I'm prepared for Sunday. James, who has started his day before 5:00am, heads home to his garden to mow the lawn before it rains and to assess whether it is too early to plant his vegetable garden. Potential frost is predicted so he is off the hook for planting today, but he is thrilled to see that his favorite white tulips are in full bloom!"

After closing the stores
: "I decide on a frittata for dinner using the mushrooms, arugula, eggs, and goat cheese from market. I call James to go over events of the day and to prepare for Sunday, another bustling day at Metropolitan Bakery."

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sadassa_Ulna
  • boulangere
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Sadassa_Ulna May 25, 2012
I am so happy to see this article! I was very lucky to work "just across the park" from the Rittenhouse location for nearly ten years. When I took a new job in Chestnut Hill, I was excited to find out I was just a half block from another Metropolitan. Yay for me!
Their bread is really just as delicious as it looks. Not only do they sell beautiful loaves (see the pic on their website of dough rising in willow baskets) and pastries, but they also sell great coffee, pizza, and sandwiches.
They are also involved in community support, see their website:
So glad to see M in the spotlight on food52!
boulangere May 25, 2012
Lovely story! I hear the crackle of the cooling baguettes right out of the gorgeous photo.