On Saturday, January 26 Reunion Bakery hosted its grand opening in the space that previously held Babbettes Artisan Bread in The Source. The new spot serves a variety of breads, pastries and dry goods made on-site. Chef and baker Ismael de Sousa opened the location to showcase his multinational approach to baked goods — and despite the interesting background, he hopes the quality of the product will speak for itself. By every indication — most of the stock was gone by 2:30 p.m. opening day — the scent wafting through the food hall did indeed lead to the promised land.
De Sousa began his culinary journey cooking at home while still a kid in Venezuela. He says his interest developed in part due to his parents’ lackluster kitchen skills. “All my friends’ families cooked well. I had like a soggy sandwich,” he laughed. Experimenting with different dishes and styles at an early age set the stage creatively for what would develop into a varied career as a nutritionist, chef and eventually baker. He studied nutrition in Venezuela, attended culinary school at the Mary Ward Center in London and learned the ins and outs of baking under Zak the Baker in Miami. The chef’s move had a simple motive — his love for the mountains and nature as good a reason as any. The purchase from Babbettes’ Steve Scott was equally uncomplicated. “He said I’m selling, I said I’m buying,” said de Sousa of the serendipitous transaction.
“We want people to travel around the world with our pastries”
“We want people to travel around the world with our pastries,” said de Sousa. “We’re trying to tell the story with our product, these are just memories, I put it back here.” The baker’s considerable travels and international training are evident in the varied breads and confections that fill the case. The golfeado ($4) is a Venezuelan sticky bun with anise seed, walnuts, cotija and piloncillo. The cheese adds a subtle touch of savory, balancing the roll’s complex flavors. The pateis de nata ($4) is a Portuguese puff pastry with lemon custard. The beer bread ($3.75) — made with New Belgium’s 1554 — is a tribute to de Sousa’s family, many of whom currently reside in South Africa. The loaf is sweet and dense, the stout flavor apparent but not overbearing. Continued collaboration between the brewery and the bakery has been made easy by the Fort Collins-based business’ decision to brew in The Source Hotel.
While the lesser-known pastries are certainly delightful, the bakery does not shine on novelty alone. Classics like the sourdough baguette ($8.50) and the traditional Parisian croissant ($3.50) are served up with a perfectionist’s touch. All the breads are naturally fermented with no added yeast, and the crew has a mother brewing in the back that produces the specific bacteria to give the loaves their distinct character. The churro croissant ($5) is covered in cinnamon-sugar and filled with dulce de leche. It may be the most decadent thing in the case and is a must for any fan of either of its parent components.
Everything is made fresh daily and is available until it sells out. If you want a taste the best the location has to offer, showing up early is highly recommended.
Reunion Bakery is located in The Source at 3350 Brighton Blvd., Denver. It is open Tuesday – Sunday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter.