By Michelle DiMuzio, Communications Coordinator
This story is part four of our Slow and Sustainable series, which profiles food businesses that are leaning into the “clean” of Slow Food’s ethos of good, clean and fair food for all. They are all winners of the Snail of Approval, a national award given to businesses embracing the environment, community, employees and people-centered values.
Demeter, the Greek goddess of harvest, wheat, bread and agriculture who guided the fertility of the earth, is the inspiration behind Demeter’s Kitchen, Denton, TX’s first and only bakery focusing on whole grain bread. They are also the recipient of the Snail of Approval award, granted by Slow Food Dallas-Fort Worth.
Catie Cohen, Founder of Demeter’s Kitchen, was not always a baker. After graduating with a degree in chemical engineering and pursuing a career within that field, it became clear to her this was not the right fit. Her longtime interest in holistic health set her on a path to explore working in the restaurant and bakery industry while also hosting holistic health workshops on the side.
However, after watching Nancy Silverton’s Chef’s Table episode on baking bread, Catie felt energized and inspired. “I loved the way she talked about baking bread,” Catie explained. “She was such a scientist. Even though I didn’t pursue a career in engineering, I definitely have a process-oriented brain. Seeing the way she approached bread made me feel it was something I could do. So I just started experimenting at home — I couldn’t stop thinking or reading about bread.”
After several apprenticeships, pastry chef positions, and restaurant endeavors later, Catie eventually landed in Denton, TX. She quickly realized there were no businesses that had the type of whole grain bread she wanted, so she decided to start her own. What started off as a partnership supplying bread to a local brewery, quickly transitioned into a cottage-style bakery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our apartment was taken over by bread,” Catie shared. “On Fridays, I would spend six hours delivering bread to all our local customers. The response was incredible.”
A fundamental component of Demeter’s Kitchen is nutrition. “Bread, which has been a demonized food item, can be nutritious and part of your everyday diet,” Catie explained. “It’s exceptionally satisfying.” Catie and team try to implement educational opportunities on nutrition wherever they can, including teaching classes and workshops, opening up the cottage a couple times a week to interact with customers, and even putting nutrition tips on the back of their business cards.
One of the most inspiring aspects of Demeter’s Kitchen is their dedication to sustainability. For Catie, putting people at the forefront is what allows her operations to be sustainable. “I believe the most important tenet of our sustainability is with our employees,” said Catie. ”I want the people who choose Demeter’s as their place of employment to see it as a stable, supportive and enriching place to work. I am mindful of how much I ask of people, that we check in regularly and that the work environment is safe (physically, mentally, emotionally). I focus mainly on making sure that our team is taken care of and that our business is mindful of the health of their bodies, mental space and emotional capacity.”
Additionally, Demeter’s Kitchen engages in a variety of other environmentally friendly practices including composting, locally sourcing ingredients, and making sure the team has sustainability on their minds as they go through the work day practicing simple yet important mindfulness around water, energy and waste. “I see sustainability as elevating our community.” Catie shared. “We are transparent about where we get our ingredients, and we collaborate with other members of the community who have businesses to help each other.”
While Demeter’s Kitchen may have just started their business endeavors in Northern Texas, they have already become a staple for nutrition, sustainability and collaboration, truly embracing the goddess of Demeter by exemplifying the fertility of community.
To learn more about Demeter’s Kitchen, visit their website.
Check out the rest of our Snail of Approval winners through our interactive map.