The Wide Awake Bakery came into being over a glass of wine and a loaf of bread. Not joking. Thor Oechsner was over for dinner one night, and we were having a time laughing and eating. He had just bought a small stone mill, and he had dreams of turning his acres of wheat and corn into flour and polenta. We drank wine and ate the bread I had baked for the evening. It was the bread. Thor took a bite. Looked at me and said, "Man, you should bake bread with my flour!" I thought he was nuts. But by the time the wine was gone, and by the time everyone else had gone to bed, and by the time the sun rose and shone through the windows, I had seen that it might just work.

After that there was nothing to do but learn. I was trained as an anthropologist, and I know that the best way to learn about something is to talk to people who know about it. I interviewed bakers all over the world by phone and by skype, and I went to visit bakeries. Bakers, it turns out, tend towards generosity, and I was welcomed into the world of baking without hesitation. It was inspiring. These were my people.

Then came the details. Where? How? How big? What was our market? Were we competent to do it? What about the oven? How would we pay for it? A thousand questions, each demanding a world of study.