The Artist Baker is located at 14-18 Cattano in Morristown, New Jersey. Located off the green and behind the Century 21 department store. All of our products are hand crafted in our kitchen from our preserves and pickles to our cakes and pastries.
The Artist Baker will be celebrating its 4th Anniversary this Valentine’s Day, 2014. The bakery cafe is a collaboration between Andrea Lekberg and her mom, Fran Davidson. Their inspirations comes from years of baking and cooking, professionally and at home.
After graduating from The Art Institute of Chicago and The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Andrea moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico to work at The Coyote Cafe. This wonderful kitchen run by Mark Miller and Mark Kiffin was a great beginning to a career. From there she worked at The Inn of the Anasazi before moving east to Durham, North Carolina. Durham, like Sante Fe, was a town with great farmer’s markets. Andrea learned about the relationship between chefs and local farms and the importance of that relationship in educating customers about seasonal food. From there, a move to Brooklyn to work at Sweet Melissa’s Patisserie. During her tenure there as pastry chef, they received Best Pies and Tarts in New York from Zagats. Before opening her own shop, Andrea worked with Pichet Ong at his bakery Batch and studied with Biagio Settepani at The French Pastry School in Chicago.
Since opening the shop, Andrea has been back to the French Pastry School in Chicago to study preserve making. This April she will study with author and Chef Paul Virant of Chicago.
Published Articles and Writings
|Edible Jersey Newsletter|
Volume 7, Number 4 February 21, 2014
Edible Jersey Winter 2012-2013
Why I Bake
By Andrea Lekberg
I always liked “women’s work.” It was what I was taught at home. I saw my mother and grandmothers taking care of their homes, their families and their elders. Cooking and baking for the family was part of it. I watched all of these women expressing themselves through all of this work. I believe it was the main outlet for their creativity.
I used to spend time with my mother and grandmothers in their kitchens. My dad’s mom, Grandma Lekberg, was a perfectionist. Everything she made was perfectly baked, the same size and delicious. For Easter, she would make the traditional lamb-shape cake covered with flaked coconut. The cake would look just like the one in the magazine. On cold days we would have warm milk with molasses and her wonderful cookies. I have many of her recipes and diagrams for how to place baking pans properly in the oven. My other grandmother (my mom’s mom), Grandma Tory, was more of a free spirit in the kitchen. I’m sure she had recipes, but I never saw her use one. She always had wads of dough wrapped precariously in her freezer. She was always ready to make a pie or my favorite, wild plum tarts. She showed me how to make these tarts with her homemade wild plum jelly. We used to drink weak coffee and eat too many of these tarts while playing Scrabble.
When I was young my mother would make bread regularly, and if I got home early enough I could see how she shaped the bread. For the cinnamon rolls, she would roll out the dough to a sheet and, to form them, she just pinched off a ball and that was it. I have thought of her just pinching those balls of dough throughout my career as a baker when I would be individually kneading and rolling each dinner roll as I was taught in school.
Some years back when I was baking in Brooklyn, Grandma Tory had to come to work with me one day. There was a funeral in the family and it would have been too much for her. It was right before Thanksgiving and we were busy. So her first job was to bag the cookie assortments. She would put a few cookies in the bag, take a sip of her coffee then eat a cookie. Sometimes she would eat a cookie from the bag and then have another sip of her coffee. I knew what she was doing, I just hoped there were no half-eaten cookies in the bags. When lunchtime came, Tory had to move to the tiny kitchen where we were making all the pies. We put a chair in front of the sink, and she sat there with us working for hours. She made little animals with funny faces from our leftover scraps of pie dough.
I have been baking professionally for 20 years now and have no intention of stopping. The balance of patience, knowledge and precision keeps me interested. And the memories of being young in those warm kitchens keeps me satisfied.
Remembering Sunflowers, Dinner at The James Beard House
Rapid City chef creates a South Dakota-inspired dinner at the James Beard House
April 18, 2012 6:00 am • Mary Garrigan Journal staff
Rapid City chef MJ Adams brought a taste of South Dakota to New York City last month.
Adams, owner of the Corn Exchange restaurant and Potted Rabbit deli, and Andrea Lekberg, a New Jersey bakery owner with family ties to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, cooked a Great Plains-inspired dinner at the James Beard House on March 26.
Beard, the late cookbook author, teacher and food writer, was considered the dean of American cooking before his death in 1985. His Greenwich Village brownstone is now a historic site and home to the James Beard Foundation, which hosts dinners by visiting chefs and sponsors annual culinary awards.
Christopher Papagni, of the International Culinary Center of New York, was one of 47 lucky diners who attended the Taste of the Great Plains dinner, paying between $170 and $140 per person for the privilege. Papagni said the two women wowed their guests with three hors d’oeuvres and a five-course dinner that began with a soup course of Dried Corn Bisque with Fried Leeks.
“I thought the corn soup was sublime,” Papagni said. “I loved all the local ingredients she shipped here from South Dakota. It felt as if I was dining on the prairie.”
In a way, he was.
The evening’s main course was Buffalo Wellington served with a buffalo berry reduction sauce. The pastry-encrusted buffalo tenderloins were donated for the event by the Triple 7 Buffalo Ranch south of Rapid City and shipped to New York City. In addition to buffalo, the menu included many foods either produced in or inspired by South Dakota — pheasant, sunflowers, chokecherries, honey and trout.
Geography should matter in cuisine, Lekberg said. “I think food does taste different in different areas, so you hope that your ideas about the land, and what it gives, translates and transfers to New York City,” she said. “There were all these nice elements of the plains, presented simply, and I think great-tasting.”
Lekberg, owner of the Artist Baker in Morristown, N.J., baked the made-from-scratch puff pastry for the Wellington, as well as a Sunflower Toasts hors d’oeuvre that was topped with homemade ricotta and drizzled with South Dakota clover honey from Honey Bear Honey Farm in Winner. Lekberg’s good friend, Craig Howe of Martin, sent dried sunflowers for the table decorations and chokecherries for the Chokecherry Spritzer that separated two of the courses.
Lekberg’s mother and her late grandmother, Tory Hoblit, were both born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As a child, she often visited her grandmother and aunts in Martin between the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations. When she thinks of South Dakota, she often pictures her grandmother eating pie and drinking coffee. “My grandmother made great pies,” she said. She carried those memories into the dessert course she created for the Beard dinner: Sage Custard with Coffee Caramel and Wild Plum Sauce.
The idea of collaborating on a Beard House dinner with Adams that featured the Great Plains first occurred to Lekberg after she dined at the cafe in the American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C.
“The Oglala Sioux is in my heritage. For me, it is about heritage and where we are at now in our lives. There are familiar flavors from my past, as well as some new ones that I have discovered,” Lekberg said.
“This meal is a collaboration, but MJ was really the star of that dinner. I wanted to tell a story of the plains, and MJ is the best chef I know to tell this story with food,” she said.
For Adams, the dinner was a return to the New York City roots where her culinary career began 25 years ago.
“It was like I came full circle because I started out at the James Beard House as a volunteer,” Adams said. “Almost 25 years later, it was nice to come full circle.”
Adams was nominated as one of 20 semi-finalists for the best chef in the Midwest by the James Beard Foundation this year.
The two women met 10 years ago through Lekberg’s brother, Michael, who lives in Rapid City and works at the Sioux Trading Post. At the time, Andrea Lekberg was living in Brooklyn and working at a restaurant where, unbeknownst to her, Adams had once worked.
“The owner said, you remind me of someone who used to work here and pulled out this picture of MJ. No joke. He couldn’t believe I knew her,” Lekberg said.
Three years ago, Lekberg and her mother, Fran Davidson, opened an artisan bakery and cafe in Morristown, about an hour’s drive from New York City.
The two staffs joined forces in Manhattan to prepare for the March 26 meal, much of which had to be shipped from South Dakota. “Andrea and I really thought about our menu and what was possible,” Adams said.
Since the Beard House kitchen is only available to chefs the day of the dinner, Adams and Lekberg arranged to use space in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s Del Posto restaurant on Sunday, a day before the Monday dinner.
“There was so much planning,” Lekberg said. “It was such a production, but I was so happy to have done that dinner. It was really wonderful. It was just delicious.”
So delicious, in fact, that the two women plan to re-create the dinner in Rapid City for a local audience sometime later this year.
On the menu
- Pheasant Mousse Coronets
- Sunflower Toasts with Housemade Ricotta and Clover Honey
- Buffalo Empanadas with Chimichurri
- Black Hills Bourbon Manhattans
- Dried Corn Bisque with Fried Leeks
Wine: Alpha Omega Sauvignon Blanc 2010
- Black Hills Smoked Trout on Buckwheat Pancake with Cucumber-Horseradish Raita and Quail Egg
Wine: Marc Colin Et Fils Les Chenevottes Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 2009
- Chokecherry Still Vodka Spritzer with Jack Rabbit Ridge Distillers
- Pickled Buffalo Tongue Tortellini with Rose Hip-Brown Butter Sauce
Wine: Roagna Dolcetto D’Alba 2009
- Buffalo Wellington with Buffalo-Berry Reduction and Wilted Watercress
Wine: Copain Hawks Butte Syrah 2009
- Sage Custard with Coffee Caramel and Wild Plum Sauce
Wine: Quinta Do Infantado Tawny Port NV