The Saxy Chef
6,000 local eggs; 40 gallons of local maple syrup; 700 pounds of local blueberries; 22 pounds of dry spices from Attar in Harrisville; 2,760 pounds of local apples; 1,476 pounds of Cabot butter; and 3,800 pounds of King Arthur Vermont flour. That about sums up the ingredient list of baker Aubrey Saxton of Saxy Chef in 2015. Hard to believe? You haven’t even heard the half of it.
Today, Aubrey runs and owns her own bakery in Antrim, New Hampshire, where an average day consists of baking 200 pies. “50 pies is not that many,” says the baker during a speech at the Monadnock Food Co-op’s annual meeting this past October. “If I’ve made 50 pies then I’ve basically made no pies,” she jokes. But like most talented artists, Aubrey’s success started at the bottom and worked its way up like the steady, toasted peaks of a lemon meringue pie.
In high school she joined the culinary program, where she was introduced to her first decadent taste of competition. In 2002 she placed third in the Skilled USA State of New Hampshire’s Hot Foods Competition. Then, one year later, she competed again — and placed first.
This small but significant show of progress would prove contagious for the rest of Aubrey’s career. After high school she attended the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating from the Institute she worked in a number of fine-dining restaurants as a line cook filling various roles including plating salads, making appetizers, and plating desserts.
On her first day working at Chris McD’s Restaurant, the kitchen’s pastry chef quit. Coming upon the kitchen manager who was frantically trying to make desserts, Aubrey also entered a panic. “He said to me ‘Can you bake?’” she recalls. “I said ‘No, not really,’ and then he asked, ‘Can you bake better than me?’ and I told him probably I could.” So she baked.
Baking started as a job for Aubrey, but as she continued, it churned into a lifestyle. “I once watched a pastry competition being judged and there was so much emphasis on how it looked, but not how it tasted,” says the chef-baker. But “everything you would expect in a great meal is just as important in a dessert.”
To put this belief into practice, in 2010 Aubrey committed to pies, working at a school during the year so she could bake in the summer and for holidays. As word about her pies spread, so did her entrepreneurial drive. The chef started working with local food places, participating in farmers markets, and eventually began distributing her pies at the Monadnock Food Co-op. When the Co-op first started distributing her product they were selling eight per week. Now that number is 40.
2014 officially marked the year that Aubrey found a bakery to call her own in Antrim, New Hampshire. Despite the difficulties she faced in financing a loan and the tiny space she had to work with, the chef persisted, kept selling pies, and placed a top priority on using only local ingredients in all of her products. Now the bakery has its own gluten-free area and in addition to the Monadnock Food Co-op, also distributes to Brattleboro Food Co-op, Blueberry Fields, Farmer John's Plot, Nature's Green Grocer, Orchard Hill Breadworks, Dimond Hill Farm, Rosaly's Farmstand, Walker Farm, Hannah Grimes Marketplace, Delay's Harvester Market, Tenny Farm, and Cafe Loco.
This past Thanksgiving the Saxy Chef baked 1,205 pies. During her speech at the Monadnock Food Co-op she reassured the audience, “It’s safe to say now that I love pies.”