Matthew Tilden’s SCRATCHbread has all the ingredients of cult legend. There’s the bread, so delicious that it’s scooped up by the early risers long before most of Brooklyn can grab a bite.
And then there’s the baker, known for his obsessive, 100-hour work weeks and giant SCRATCHbread tattoo, inked on his beefy forearm as a mission statement.
Unlike most things cult, however, Tilden’s wares are about to become more readily available when the bread master himself opens a Columbia Street retail location in July.
“Food is interactive, it’s an experience,” said Tilden. “I relate lovemaking and food so much — it’s just got to be passionate, it’s on another level.”
Tilden has been on hiatus since he decided his previous work arrangement — furiously cranking out loaves of bread when the 700-degree oven was not in use at Toby’s Public House in the South Slope — left no room to grow. He plans to resume wholesale sales to retailers like Blue Apron within the next few weeks and will continue to peddle his breads and pastries at the Brooklyn Flea.
At the store, Tilden will further develop his food philosophy that, as it turns out, includes a little more than just baking the dreamiest sourdough you’ve ever tasted. Tilden wants to change the way people think about food by inspiring emotion through eating, and involve his consumers in the making of it, too.
He’s considering an internship program, allowing aspiring bakers of all levels to pitch in at the store and learn a little about bread, not to mention plotting live, interactive “anti-catering” parties.
Of course, as with most good things, there is a catch — Tilden is still short one, essential wood-burning oven, necessary to bake his signature, crazy delicious sourdough at 700 degrees. Luckily, he has a few more tricks up his sleeve, including plans to let the community become shareholders of sorts in his company to raise the $10,000 he needs.
“I wouldn’t put the freakin’ tattoo on my arm if this wasn’t a lifestyle I wanted to live,” said Tilden. “I sort of feel that I have to reiterate this – I hate egos. SCRATCHbread is sort of the anti-ego.”
SCRATCHbread (193 Columbia St. between Degraw and Sackett streets in the Columbia Street Waterfront District, no phone yet). Slated to open in July.