We chat to Chef and baker extraordinare, Sarah Voigt between dough ferments ahead of the Masters Apprentices event on Sunday May 2, to find out – why bread?
“There are two stand out moments in my career that steered me to where I am/what I do today. The first was 4 years ago. I was in the 3rd year of my apprenticeship and I got a chance to stage at Blue Hill Stone Barns. Yea you read that right. I got to hang out with the man himself, Dan Freakin’ Barber, the guy who put asparagus on every dish on his menu cause someone over-ordered. It was intense and nerve-wracking but heck, it was worth it. I learned to speak up, to say what I thought – even if it was stupid, that bread deserves respect and that I could travel the world with this career.
The second was January 2018. I decided to pick up my life and move to San Francisco. I had nowhere to stay, no family to show me around and no real plan. What I did have was an interview at Tartine. It’s definitely the furthest I’ve travelled for an interview. I arrived and they had already filled the spot but I continued to work there for free until one day a baker mentioned a different bakery looking for someone. I gave it a try and turned out this bakery, MH Bread and Butter, was more my scene. It was a small team but big quantities of bread. I started at 3am, I didn’t have a car so I would walk to work. One morning my boss saw me walking, the next day he gave me his bike until I could afford my own. Then I got pulled over by the cops for running a stop sign (at 3AM!), I offered him bread, so he let me off with a warning. After that, the other bakers would pick me up. At work, we’d play around with the different flours we could get in, mix them with different ingredients and play around with different ways of scoring. Once I was comfortable with bread and the flours, I brought in Aussie ingredients like Vegemite and Wattle seed (they sold out every time). I learned that there is more to bread than one thinks, you have to take into consideration, the water temp/how much water you add, the room temp, the flour temp, the humidity outside, the speed of the mixer, how long you can mix the flour before it breaks down completely. The list goes on but it didn’t take me long to work it out, turns out I’m pretty good with bread. Early on in this gig, I realised bread was my thing.
Tell us about an influential mentor.
I can’t pick just one mentor, there are three people who pushed and inspired me in different ways and at different times of my career.
Nik Tucker “Don’t be sorry, be better” Nik pushed me to be the best I can be, to have no excuses and to keep striving for the next best thing/opportunity.
Sam Smith “Make it your own” Sam helped me to think differently about food – to not overcomplicate it, to let the produce speak for itself. He taught me how to use my creative side and challenged me to make decisions on my own.
Nathan Yanko “Push the hydration” Nathan gave me a job with next to no experience. He taught me how to step outside of my comfort zone and that bread doesn’t have to be white or plain, it can be fun and intriguing and weird.
Where do you see Barossa in the future?
I see the Barossa being more about how things are made and where the ingredients are sourced rather than absentmindedly buying a loaf of bread or dining at a restaurant with no care for the story behind it.
You can catch Sarah as part of the chef team at Masters Apprentices, a Tasting Australia event Sunday 2 May 2021.
Yesterday’s apprentices > Today’s mentors > Tomorrow’s masters.
5 courses + 10 wines delivered through the eyes of 6 chefs + 10 winemakers destined to make their mark, leading the next generation of Barosssa food and wine.
Tickets $155pp – tastingaustralia.com.au