I recently sat down with Chef Adam Young, co-owner and head baker at Sift Bake Shop, to discuss his recent win as "Best Baker in America," Sift’s success, future plans, and what you should order during your next visit.
Opened in spring 2016, Sift Bake Shop in downtown Mystic has gained rapid success from a winning combination of Adam Young’s (co-owner/head baker) infectious passion and skill in the kitchen. This French-inspired bakery takes cues from Young’s own travels in France and is a combination of aspects he liked from a variety of different European bakeries. This vision translated into a bright, open space outfitted with dark wood floors, a long display case stocked with everything from sandwiches to dainty entremets and crispy baguettes, and hanging silver lighting shining like spotlights on the baked goods.
The fact that the entire space is chef designed makes it easy for guests to see the bakers at work and catch glimpses of the constantly present Chef Young. The Old World dining experience is decidedly enhanced with seating available outdoors, a range of excellent espresso-based drinks, and no public Wi-Fi—you’ll find no guests on computers taking up the limited tables here. Instead, you’ll find a steady flow of customers seeking to purchase the best French pastries, breads, and desserts from knowledgable, friendly staff.
On The Food Network
Recently, the goal-oriented Young appeared on two Food Network competitions, placing as runner-up in the Spring Championship and winner of the Best Baker in America competition. When I asked Young if he’d like to appear again on a Food Network show, he said it’s unlikely he’d compete again, yet he stated that he’d love to appear as a host or judge in a future show. Chef Young shared that Food Network is very supportive of the people they’ve worked with, cheering them on for success, creating a lasting relationship.
With the recent winning of Best Baker in America in spring 2018, Sift has seen a large uptick in guests visiting from across the U.S., and the staff have taken pride in this win, working harder than ever to deliver the best quality, consistently delicious baked goods. While I was recently at Sift, “Congratulations, you deserve it!” was frequently heard from both visiting and local guests, and the smiles lit up the staff’s faces.
Of these frequent congratulations and well wishes, Chef Young takes it humbly, saying “I’m not famous, I mop floors in the back.” His genuineness is evident with his surprise in how popular Sift has become after Best Baker in America aired this spring. Chef Young even shared that he had an out-of-state visitor email him to purchase a cake for his wife’s birthday and flew her to Connecticut to visit Sift and meet Adam.
On Dreaming Big and Work-Life Balance
Upon opening Sift, Chef Young was determined that Sift Bake Shop would work. Opening a French bakery was his dream, and he knew that by following his business plan, delivering consistently good products, and through his passion and hard work, Sift would succeed.
Saying that the past two years have been busy for Chef Young is an understatement—he’s opened Sift, appeared on two Food Network competitions, had his first child, and expanded to a seasonal bakery outlet in Watch Hill, RI.
With all of these accomplishments, you’d guess correctly that Young has been busy, typically putting in 90 hours of work each week. But this work he considers an investment into his young business and family’s future. What’s challenging now is predictions for the future, as “Sift is a brand new business each year.” Young hopes to expand to include a large kitchen space and more seating, so customers can enjoy lingering over their cappuccino and croissant.
But at present, Young wants to always have Sift located in downtown Mystic, as the locals in the food and beverage business are “in it to win it,” with the attitude that one business’s success is “good for one, good for all.” Which is something that I love to hear being from the area and frequenting the restaurants in Mystic.
What to Order
Chef Young’s suggestion is to order one in each class of items, so one entremets, one bread, one sandwich, a macaroon (really, you must order more than one), and one croissant. In fact, croissants are the specialty at Sift, with numerous bakers working 23 hours per day to create a range of sweet and savory croissants that are especially loved locally. What’s popular and available one week might be different the next, but during my visit, I enjoyed the currently popular savory croissant, which I found to be perfectly flaky, stuffed with just the right amount of filling, and perfect for a morning or afternoon treat. Whatever you choose to order, you won’t be disappointed.
I’m excited to see what goals Chef Young will accomplish for Sift Bake Shop in the next two years.
Sift Bake Shop
5 Water Street Mystic, CT
102 Bay Street, Watch Hill, RI