Ben Bloom loves bread so much he refused to let his all-time favorite, a French peasant loaf created by longtime friend Judie Saleeby, become baking history. He bought her recipes and the name and hired 15 employees to plant a branch of his Branford-based La Cuisine in downtown New Haven.
An aromatic ribbon cutting for “La Cuisine, Home of Judies Bread” took place Wednesday on Grove Street, where the Judies European Bakery closed earlier this year
Bloom’s son and business partner Brendan described his dad as a “bread fanatic.”
The elder Bloom grew up in New Jersey with Brooklyn relatives. He was surrounded by the heavenly aromas of relatives doing home baking.
He has known Judie Saleeby as a friend and business adviser for three decades, ever since she opened her small shop on Short Beach in Branford and Bloom and his wife nurtured their initial Guilford home-baking business into La Cuisine in Branford.
With the purchase of the Judies name and secret approach to baking, Bloom said, now every loaf and sandwich he sells at the new store and his catering business will feature daily-made Judies loaves.
“I didn’t want Judies to die. We didn’t want the product to go away. We are committed to putting it back on people’s tables,” Bloom said.
Without revealing secrets, he described the bread as “artisanal, with all natural and high quality ingredients handled with care.”
The Blooms accepted the congratulations of local officials including Chris Ortwein, the economic prosperity manager of the Town Green Special Services District, which organized the event.
“We know how difficult it is to open a new business, so we appreciate your effort to come to the Elm City,” she said.
If he’s at his kitchen at home and has a yen for a Judies loaf, here’s how Ben Bloom says he makes his “spring bread salad.”
Here’s the recipe: roasted asparagus, steamed spring peas, and, of course the most important ingredient, cubed up pieces of day old Judies French peasant bread.
You toss with a caper and lemon vinaigrette and top with shaved parmesan.
But be careful not to toast the bread hard like a crouton. It needs to be just soft enough to absorb the dressing, he said.