Shelby Kibler, the “principal” at the famous Zingerman’s baking school in Ann Arbor, said he’s going back to the art of baking bread when he opens “Field & Fire,” his artisan bakery at the new Downtown Market.

Kibler, a 17-year veteran of the baking industry who has spent the past 11 years as manager, baker and principal product developer for Zingerman’s, said he’s eager to start his new enterprise at the market under construction at 435 Ionia Ave. SW.

“What I’m hoping to do is bring the best bread I can bake to the area,” says Kibler, whose addition to the lineup at the $30 million Downtown Market was announced Tuesday, April 9.

The store inside the Market Hall will feature a wood-fired oven that will bake a variety of organic breads, flatbreads, pizzas and pastries using locally-sourced ingredients, Kibler says. Most of what he bakes will be sold in the Market Hall, he said.

“Imagine baskets filled with warm crusty loaves right from the oven, crackling as they cool,” says Kibler, who estimated he will employ up to six bakers and two retail employees. “It will create a complete sensory experience within the market.”

Field & Fire will be one of 24 artisan vendors planned for the indoor Market Hall. Other tenants who have been announced include an ice cream maker, a coffee roaster, a gourmet popcorn vendor, a florist, and an olive oil and vinegar producer.

As the man behind Zingerman’s popular baking school, Kibler said he probably will find himself teaching in the Downtown Market’s demonstration kitchens at a yet-to-be determined future date.

“I’m not sure it will happen right away,” says Kibler. “The nervous businessman part of this thinks that I’ll be swamped at first. But it’s certainly in the plans to do some teaching.”

Downtown Market President and CEO Mimi Fritz says “Field & Fire” will help fulfill the market’s mission of bringing healthy and diverse food options to West Michigan.

“Shelby brings with him talent and experience as well as a clear sense of how to teach his craft and engage the public,” Fritz says. “We are delighted he is choosing to create an entirely new business within our community of artisans.”

Scheduled to open on July 1, the $30 million market also will include a sit-down restaurant, a micro-brewery, demonstration and educational kitchens and a banquet facility. An outdoor seasonal market is scheduled to open May 4.

Jim Harger //