Let me just say: thank you. You’re giving this blog a shot. It speaks to how much Uppercrust means to you. I’m flattered and grateful more than I can say (and you’ll find that I can say a lot).
By the way, I’m Ben. I’m Uppercrust’s owner, and I’ll be writing these posts. I didn’t grow up in Gainesville, but when my family moved here 12 years ago, Uppercrust quickly became our neighborhood bakery. After cutting my teeth at Blue Hill New York, and becoming very, very persnickety about how double-stacked cheeseburgers should be cooked at Husk in Charleston, South Carolina, I happened upon a hiring sign on Uppercrust’s front door. Baking! Cool! Something I hadn’t done professionally. And in my then-quest to open a truly great sandwich shop, a valuable/necessary addition to my repertoire.
Uppercrust won me over pretty quickly. Everyone was so… nice to each other. This was special, exceptional. Uppercrust had something important figured out: it proved it is possible to work in a kitchen that holds itself to high standards and cares about people’s feelings. It was an epiphany. As unexceptional as this combination may sound, let me assure you: it is rare. Problematically rare. But rare nonetheless.
Fast forward four years to two months ago. I had a formative conversation with a local businessperson named Collin Austin. (Sidebar: Collin owns New Scooters 4 Less. He/they are the reason every other vehicle within a mile of campus is a scooter. (Have you been to other college towns? This is not normal.))
He made a lot of points during our conversation. These two stayed with me:
- Everyone has a story
- Share it
Immediately, I recognized I have not told any of our remarkable bakery’s story. Any! How the heck did this little oasis come to North Florida? Why do our recipes work? Who are the people that make us so… well, so damn great? And what makes them tick? Take even the first part of this post. As many reservations as I may have about a paragraph that feels so brazenly egotistical, it is part of Uppercrust’s story. And it’s the first time we’ve written anything about it.
Since this my conversation with Collin, I’ve made a conscious effort to story-ify our Facebook and Instagram pages. This was done in some overt ways: we’ve added videos showing “behind the scenes,” and have taken more photos of our team members. It was also done in more subtle ways, like recognizing one of our guests, Kelly Harrison, who took this beautiful picture of our macarons:
This picture is amazing. Way better than we can do. Lovely as it is, it only captures a moment in time. The point of this blog is to tell the macarons’ story. The whole story.
This story starts well before we start baking (the politics of our globalized food world is unequivocally part of macarons’ story). But most of their story, as far as Uppercrust is concerned, begins three days before you eat them. On this day, the almond flour sits in a plastic bucket, beige and torpid; the egg whites, flabby and unbeaten; our powdered sugar, clumped and unsifted. And Leannis sees the vision. Despite the humidity, our labyrinthine kitchen, and demanding boss, she makes the macarons a reality.
I work with remarkable people. They have remarkable stories. I’d like you to hear them.