City Bites

RISING STAR: Is Natali Harea Ottawa’s next great bread baker?

The face of Nat's Bread Company is one that is rarely seen. Natali Harea works from midnight until noon, baking breads in the basement of gezellig.

You know you’re talking to a serious baker when their sourdough starter has a name. “Stan” is what baker Natali Harea calls her container of culture that flavours and leavens her dark, super-tangy sourdough loaves.

You might say that Stan is part of the reason that customers are swooning over the bread baskets at a some of the foodiest restaurants, including gezellig, play, and Navarra.

She came up with the name Stan while chatting with her friend and fellow chef, Katie Brown at Beckta Dining & Wine (Harea worked at Beckta for a year and a half before dedicating herself exclusively to bread baking). She had finally tossed out an old sourdough starter that Harea says never properly matured (“I hated it and it died”), but says her new starter has been wonderful and tremendously forgiving. “I don’t even have to feed it and it’s just incredibly reliable.”

The two chefs decided a man like that would be called Stan.