Felix Yau’s levain is already a decade old, and yet, Yau himself is only 21. He started his levain (the sourdough base used for every loaf of his bread) in his parent’s kitchen. Armed with this, as well as a great talent for producing delicious bread, he’s launched a new business, Fife Bakery, which is well worth watching.
As a middle-school student, Yau started baking bread made from recipes that he found on the Internet. He habitually spent all of his weekly allowance buying 10-kg bags of flour from the grocery store. It will come as no surprise, then, that his favorite book from his youth is the Tartine cookbook; he still brings it with him on every visit to the storied San Francisco bakery and fills it with the signatures of the bakers on shift.
After earning his certification as a chef, thanks to an accelerated high school program called Ace-It, Yau pursued working as a chef with a handful of restaurants before launching Fife Bakery last fall. He was inspired by an entrepreneurship workshop hosted by Chris Jerome of Hawkers Market. Yau attended this workshop with six bags of his bread, distributing them to his fellow attendees and building relationships with a number of the speakers, who encouraged him to make it official. His source for the name, Fife Bakery, comes from a particular type of heritage wheat, Red Fife, a Canadian varietal with well over 100 years of history behind it.
He sees his chosen profession as a craft, dedicating two to three days to bending and shaping the bread dough, and overseeing every aspect of the baking process. Yau sources his main ingredients from Canadian suppliers: his eggs come from a “happy chicken farm” in Langley, much of his flour from Anita’s Organic Mill in Chilliwack, and his salt from the Vancouver Island Salt Co. His attention to detail and demand for quality extends even to the bread’s packaging: Yau eschewed the typical paper bag in favor of a fully compostable and Canadian-made cardboard box of clever and chic design.
His bread is currently available on a regular basis at Hawkers Market, where he typically sells out. Yau’s suggestion for enjoying his beautiful bread? A generous slathering of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. However, it’s just as tasty when impatiently torn into chunks on one’s walk home.
UPDATE: Fife Bakery now has a permanent location at 64 East 3rd Ave.