Semifreddi’s – the people’s bakery
When I asked Tom Frainier to describe his Semifreddi’s Bakery business, the UC Berkeley graduate exclaimed with a smile, “we’re the people’s bakery!” Frainer joined his sister and brother-in-law in their tiny Kensington, California bakery after ditching corporate life at Clorox back in 1988.
Dreamer of dreams Tom Frainier
Like Willy Wonka of chocolate fame, Frainier is a dreamer of dreams who, along with his partners, has successfully grown the family-owned business from Kensington to a 33,000 square foot, environmentally-friendly bakery production center located in Alameda, California. Frainier has kept his sense of humor intact, swapping his CEO title for Chief Boot Licker and truly values his hard-working employees.
Tom Frainier and the Hand-Crafted Dough Factory
With his spiked blonde hair, Frainier dons a hairnet and opens the gates to Semifreddi’s Bakery to give me a first hand look at his bread factory. While Frainier insists this is not a factory, the magic of the place is reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Watching the flour travel from the silo in one room, up through pipes, hugging the walls and ceiling of the wonderland, to ultimately dump into vats in another room, reminded me of Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, sans umpa lumpas. Yet instead of chocolate, my nose was pleasantly over-whelmed with the aroma of cinnamon and fresh baked bread.
Focaccia bread – is good sheet…bread
The Alameda company is known for their sourdough, sweet and seeded baguettes, as well as challah, cinnamon twist, ciabatta, country levain, rosemary focaccia – this is good sheet….bread, rye, sourdough and the sweet batard. While high tech machines help the bread baking process along, it is the employees who hand craft the artisan breads.
Frainier points out that his breads contain four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. “The less ingredients,” says Frainier, “the fresher and the more local it is.” In fact, 75% of the companies sales are within 30 miles of Alameda.
You may know the bay area bakery for hand-crafted breads, but did you know Semifreddi’s also bakes morning buns, cinnamon morning buns, cinnamon swirl bread, biscotti, almond biscotti, almond croissants, chocolate croissants, apple turnovers, muffins, scones, blueberry cream cheese danish and pecan swirls? Dessert fans may enjoy chocolate chip, oatmeal or snickerdoodle cookies and seasonal breads such as pumpkin or ginger bread. Salad lovers have not been over-looked; try the super garlic croutons. Frainier hands packets of garlic croutons out to his neighborhood trick-or-treaters during Halloween night.
Tour Semifreddi’s Bakery
Tours of the 33,000 square foot bakery are free and open to the general public with a minimum of 10 people – children and school groups welcome – advance reservations required.
Travelers will like Semifreddi’s for their almond biscotti and chocolate-dipped biscotti. Packed with nutritional value, the biscotti is available on line, as are the garlic croutons, and fit easily into backpacks and earthquake kits.
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If You Go:
Semifreddi Bakery (510) 596-9930
1980 North Loop Road
Alameda, CA 94502
Have you been to Alameda? What are your favorite things to do in Alameda, California?
Article, photos and YouTube video produced by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown