Taylor Petrehn is the co-owner of 1900 Barker, a bakery that opened up in 2015 in the college town of Lawrence, Kansas. A graduate of Johnson County Community College a little more than thirty minutes from Lawrence, Petrehn is part of a growing number of young artisan bakers in the Kansas City area.
The talented baker is only in his mid-20s but has already made a name for himself on both a local and a national level. Petrehn is known as a “local hero” of sorts for his use of certified organic Turkey Red wheat that is grown 1½ miles from his bakery at Moon on the Meadow, a small farm in Lawrence.
Turkey Red is the first variety of wheat introduced to Kansas in the 1870s by German Mennonites who fled Russia to avoid military conflict. Today, heirloom Turkey Red seeds are being planted in small pockets of Kansas to support the growing demand of local wheat from artisan bakers like Petrehn.
Taylor Petrehn gained an early appreciation for great food working as a pastry chef for Kansas City’s acclaimed Parisi Coffee. Also, one of his key mentors was the executive pastry chef at Dean & DeLuca, where he worked for six years. Through these positions, he developed his keen palate.
“Having strong opinions has led me to be a better baker,” he says. “That has helped me consciously improve my palate. When I taste a croissant, I’m always thinking about what it needs. Dissecting the crust and the crumb, and thinking about the hydration. I wouldn’t say I am a flavor genius, but hopefully maybe I will be someday.”
That sense of flavor has allowed 1900 Barker to bake some truly memorable breads, such as Utility Bread, which features 25 percent Turkey Red wheat from Moon on the Meadow.
Petrhen hopes that the local grain movement will help more and more consumers appreciate the great flavor of breads and value the contributions of the artisan bread community.
“We live in the Grain Belt of America, and yet a lot of people still don’t know where our wheat comes from,” he says. “There is a huge push of young farmers who are farming for the same reason that I am baking. I’ve very excited about the future.”