By Maureen Werther
Berkshire Mountain Bakery, a business that specializes in European-style baking, will open this month in the Washington building at 422 Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs.
The bakery is directly behind Kilwins, the sweet shop in the building.
It is run by Richard Bourdon, a native of Quebec, who has been making and selling bread in the town of Housatonic, Mass., since 1986. This is a new location for the company.
In partnership with Jay Ollivierra, who is the owner of the Saratoga Springs location, Berkshire Mountain Bakery products will be shipped fresh daily from its main facility in Housatonic and will include a wide assortment of goods including breads and five different types of pizza doughs, focaccia and ciabatta.
What distinguishes Berkshire Mountain Bakery’s breads and doughs from others, according to ownership, is the pure ingredients and a natural fermentation process. All of their breads are sourdough – not because it is popular or a fad, according to their website – but, because it allows for flavorful and easily digestible food.
The fermentation process the bakery employs has been practiced for thousands of years and, “virtually all pre-industrialized peoples soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridges, breads, cakes and casseroles.”
They refer to the baking process as a "truly dynamic art…that involves a very basic interaction with nature," with the result being an "authentic, wholesome and natural bread with a rich flavor and aroma that is light in texture and truly nourishing."
But the bread is only one part of the story. The other is the story of Jay Ollivierra, owner and business partner of Bourdon. Originally from Long Island, Ollivierra grew up in Massachusetts and attended Clemson University for a year and a half before deciding to take time off to discover what he really wanted to do with his life.
Part of this time off involved joining the Army, which included six months in Afghanistan. After his tour of duty was up, he returned to school, receiving a degree in finance and operations management from University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
From there, Ollivierra spent time in Houston, Cleveland and Chicago, working for an engineering firm as a project business manager. It was during his time in Chicago that he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and began a five-year battle to overcome his disease.
After two stem cell transplant operations using his own cells, and a temporary remission, he suffered a relapse. He travelled to Sloane Kettering in New York City, where he underwent a third stem cell transplant from a donor. He has been cancer-free since.
When he returned to Massachusetts, a family friend introduced him to Bourdon, who was looking to expand operations. Ollivierra became general manager of Berkshire Mountain Bakery's recently opened Pittsfield location.
Ollivierra said he is the business manager and Bourdon is "the master baker." The bakery had already been making daily deliveries to stores and restaurants in the Albany area and Ollivierra decided that Saratoga would be a great place to open another location.
When the Berkshire Mountain Bakery opens on Broadway, it will be café-style, with 34 seats and offering an assortment of breads, cookies and pizza doughs. Customers will have the option to have their pizzas baked on the premises or they can opt for "take and bake."
Customers will also be able to buy paninis and salads, using locally sourced ingredients. The café also offers gluten-free options.
Bourdon's baking has earned him a place in media and in print, with a nod to his bread and chocolate appearing in the Wall Street Journal and a role in the Netflix documentary, "Cooked." Their pizzas were voted best in Berkshire County two years in a row, and they have been ranked one of the top 10 bakers in Bon Appetit.
Ollivierra is planning for a soft opening on July 19 or 20, with a grand opening schedule to coincide with the opening of the racetrack. He plans to be open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.