Trade magazine Dessert Professional has picked Blue Duck Bakery’s Keith Kouris as one of the top 10 bread bakers in North America, news that should come to no surprise as bread and pastry fans on the North and South forks.
Kouris, of Aquebogue, says it is a great honor to be selected and it took him by surprise. He was well aware of the magazine’s annual top 10 lists, but the recognition was not solicited at all, he says.
The first Blue Duck Bakery opened in 1999 in Southampton. He and wife Nancy now have four locations. They first expanded to Southold, then they opened a Riverhead bakery in 2012 and a Greenport bakery the following year.
They picked a tough economic period to open new storefronts, but were undeterred. Kouris says they had faith in the revitalization of Riverhead, and as for Greenport, he says, “We love waking villages. It was an opportunity that we felt we couldn’t pass up.”
Becoming a top baker required a lot of hard work and a lot of training, according to Kouris. He notes that Blue Duck bakes 8,000 to 10,000 loaves a day every Friday and Saturday in season, and in addition to its own bakeries, Blue Duck delivers every day to restaurants and markets in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey.
As the business has grown, the Kourises made sure to never compromise their product.
“We made a promise to ourselves that we wouldn’t expand anything that we do, bread or sweets, unless we could stay true to the way we originally made them,” Kouris says.