BALTIMORE — Every step of building Kneads Bakeshop by H&S was made with intention, and that includes bringing Loïc Hémery along from the start. As director of operations and executive chef for Kneads, Hémery brings Miami culinary experience combined with a foundation in baking.
“My siblings and I were born in a bread mixer, so to speak,” Hémery said, describing how he grew up learning about bakery and patisserie with his parents, who owned a French bakery cafe in Miami for 33 years.
After attending college in Washington DC to study international relations, Hémery returned home to help with the family business … and never left.
It was in that chapter of his life that Hémery parlayed his baking experience into culinary expertise.
Bakery and culinary arts often run parallel, and they rarely intersect. But the winding path that Hémery took in his career makes him one of those rarities indeed.
After his parents closed their bakery and retired in 2008, Hémery explored the culinary world as an entrepreneur, starting his own businesses and working for different hospitality groups throughout South Florida. He developed myriad skills in a variety of cuisines, starting with the Cuban-inspired fare that Miami is known for.
Even at his most adventurous, Hémery has always called upon the fundamentals for executing the best possible products.
“Throughout my journey, everything I’ve done has been artisan and from scratch,” Hémery recalled. “I’ve done everything the old way … with love, with time and by using amazing ingredients.”
Helping launch Kneads was a culmination of not only his culinary and bakery background but also the entrepreneurial spirit that had been his driving force.
“This recruiter tracked me down and told me about this opportunity in Baltimore,” Hémery said. “I thought I’d consider it and listen to what it was about. I met Adam [Paterakis, co-owner of Kneads] over Zoom, and we had this incredible, organic conversation and hit it off right away.”
It wasn’t long before Hémery was traveling between Miami and Baltimore, checking out the local food scene and getting acquainted with Kneads and its parent company, H&S Family of Bakeries, owned and operated by the Paterakis family.
“Hearing about this project gave me goosebumps,” Hémery said. “I was put into a position where I could pull from my bakery and patisserie experience growing up, my experience in the kitchen, and my knowledge of building and scaling a business.
Hémery is building Kneads’ bakery lineup and cafe menu around what has driven him the most — love, time and quality ingredients.
“The menu will be from scratch,” he said. “And we’ll find the best ingredients that we can source to make the most amazing products we can.”
He draws inspiration from not only his Miami roots but also his multicultural heritage.
“There’s amazing cuisine going on in Miami,” he said. “There was a lot of Venezuelan and Peruvian influence back home, and of course a lot of Cuban. And coming from a French and Japanese background, I’ve learned to blend the European side with the Japanese.”
During his culinary years, Hémery studied under a master kaiseki chef developing high-end Japanese cuisine, which he now implements into his menu development for food as well as baked goods. This unique approach will surely have an impact in Baltimore, where menus typically stay close to their core influences.
At Kneads, Hémery will bring a fusion to the bakery and cafe that will expand on the core artisan items and create signature products that can’t be found anywhere else. To accomplish that, he’s built a star team including Tyler Vegetabile, head baker; Cyrus Keefer, chef de cuisine; and Cynthia Ruane, head pastry chef.
This is a chance for Hémery to employ a variety of techniques and get a little adventurous in ways atypical of culinary and artisan bakery trends often seen in the area.
“We’re definitely going to push a very cultured menu with international flair,” Hémery said. “It’s going to be a fun lineup, where someone can come in all the time and always find something different to get excited about.”
Whether it’s internationally inspired, seasonal or a limited drop, Hémery’s product development will keep Kneads guests on their toes … and coming back for more.
This story is from March | Q1 2023 issue of Craft to Crumb. Read the full digital edition.