Fervere (fur-vehr-ray, Latin for “to boil”) was created by Fred Spompinato, an artisanal bread baker who started Farm to Market Bread in 1993 with fellow baker Mark Friend.
Sixteen years ago, Spompinato went on to create his own “tiny” bakery at 1702 Summit St. The bakery was only open three days a week and specialized in slow-rise doughs handcrafted then baked in a hearth oven. The crusty rustic loaves were revered by his customers, who knew to order ahead or risk going without.
“Fred is iconic in the food world. He developed people’s palates for that kind of bread,” says baker Chris Matsch, who co-owns Ibis with his wife, Kate.
In 2014, Food & Wine named Fervere to its short list of America’s Best Bread Bakeries:
“There are no scones or croissants here; Fred Spompinato bakes one thing and one thing only: bread. His crusty, flavor-packed loaves — tangy-tasting Pain de Campagne, fruit-studded Orchard — line one brick wall of his unadorned bakery. The rest of the simple, serious space is devoted purely to bread baking, with a wood-burning oven, mixer and sacks of organic flour in full view.”
Ibis Bakery got its start when Chris started baking loaves of bread for toast at Black Dog Coffeehouse, his parents’ business, quickly expanding with a full-fledged bakery into the strip mall space next door at 12817 W. 87th St. Parkway.
Early last year, Spompinato approached Matsch about buying Fervere so he could retire. The two bakers hit it off and Spompinato, who marvels at how far Matsch, a self-taught baker, has come in such a short time, stepped into the role of mentor.
“I couldn’t believe this person would allow me to build on what he built,” Matsch says. “They are very big shoes to fill.”
Initially, the plan was for Fervere’s seasoned bakers to stay on and continue operating as separate bakeries while banding together to buy ingredients.
But after two chimney fires and the recent loss of both Fervere bakers to out-of-state job offers, Ibis informed its customers late last week in an email that it was merging the two businesses and consolidating their bread menu.
“It’s kind of been a process,” Matsch says. “Fred was just super encouraging to do what’s best for us. He’s really empowered us to make our own decisions. He’s such an inspiration and I really appreciate his values and creativity.”
Matsch adds there are more similarities than differences in the bakeries. Both bakeries have similar baking philosophies and will continue to serve their respective neighborhoods.
“I don’t think I would have wanted Fervere to carry on without someone who understands Fervere could never be anything but a small, small bakery where Ibis can produce a fair number of loaves,” Spompinato says.
“I hope Chris can find a way for them to play off each other in a positive way. I don’t ever doubt his skill (as a baker). I feel like the trickiest part will be the entrepreneurial side, but it will also be the most exciting part, to see how he develops an identity for both.”
Regular offerings will include: country, multigrain, cheese slipper, ciabatta, sprouted rye pan bread, brioche pan, olive rosemary, sprouted quinoa-kamut, Vollkornbrot pan (heavily seeded rye), citrus-brioche pan (Saturday only) and baguettes (Saturday only).
Seasonal breads will include: cranberry walnut, cranberry almond, holiday bread, coconut white chocolate, oat porridge and cracked corn porridge.
Watch for Fervere’s summer cheese slipper special events to return later this summer and the pastry programs at both shops to ramp up, thanks in part to a developing partnership with Johnson County Community College’s baking program.
Meanwhile, Matsch and his network of family members and business partners have started construction on a building at 17th Street and Grand Boulevard. The new space, which is unnamed at this time, will include a flour mill, a bakery and cafe and a roasting space for Messenger Coffee. It is due to open spring 2017.
Jill Wendholt Silva is The Star’s James Beard award-winning food editor, lead restaurant critic and Chow Town blog curator.