Meeting Owen Petersen last year was definitely a big highlight for me. The young, energetic man from southern Alberta has a passion for bread that instantly made me feel at home. From the first time I walked into his bakery, located in Edmonton’s deep south, I was won over by his smile and easy going personality. We talked about bread, and more bread, and yet more bread. In reality, I’m sure my initial lingering probably had Owen questioning what my intentions would be. But, the longer I stood and watched, the more I learned. How could I not. I love hearty, whole grain breads; they’ve changed my life and changed my understanding of bread. So when I saw Owen creating his award winning bread, I knew I’d be back.
From watching him mill his own wheat to slicing samples of warm loaves for his customers, Owen was exactly the kind of person I wanted to get involved with my Culinary Q&A series. So here I was, ready to talk about everything and anything, and we ended up chatting about chickens. Go figure. Oh, and don’t forget when you go, Owen is a big supporter of local music, so you might just hear a new tune or two when you stop in.
Owen L. Petersen
Baker & Owner at Prairie Mill Bread Co. Edmonton
How would you classify your baking style?
Basic and hearty.
Who taught you how to bake?
Nanci Ashton (mother and my source of bread for all of my formative years), John Juurlink (baker/owner of Prairie Mill Bread Co. Calgary) and Craig Jensen (baker/manager of Prairie Mill Bread Co. Calgary).
What are 5 kitchen ingredients/tools you can’t live without?
1-Tiffany, my Moritaka knife. 2- big soup pot. 3- oregano. 4- wooden spoon… i love wooden spoons 5- anything in the onion family.
When did you realize that food was your passion? And do you have any passions outside of food?
When an old friend said to me, after she made me a very bland tasting salad, ‘food doesn’t always need to taste good to be worth eating.’ from then on I looked at food with awe as taste is but one of many values that it affords us.
As for other passions I have 2. Chickens and books. I spent a good 9 months in a little Catholic monastery working in their book bindery and tending their chicken flocks. I had chickens growing up as well and loved them more than our dog! For this reason you may, from time to time, read me ranting on Twitter about our city’s ridiculous prohibition on urban chickens.
What is your biggest culinary guilty pleasure, something the foodies might frown upon?
KFC poutine!! I cant even describe the pleasure I get from eating that
When feeling under the weather, what comfort food do you create?
Soup. Thick, thick soup.
Besides your own kitchen, where would you mostly like be sitting for a meal in Edmonton?
The Black Dog Free House because you can bring your own food! However, I ate the beef Carpaccio at the Red Star Pub the other night and it kind of rocked my world! So basically any dark cozy pub… yeah that’s my final answer..
Is there anywhere you would like to live and work for additional culinary influence?
The west coast. I have no idea how to cook fish so I would love to spend some time on the ocean where I could get a good fresh variety of finned creatures to chew on.
Are there any bread trends on the horizon that you would like to work with?
The Gluten Free trend is fascinating to me because it’s forcing bakers away from wheat and into all sorts of grains and seeds and legumes. However my bakery’s sub title is ‘Bakers and Millers of Premium Wheat’ so I can’t imagine I’ll stray too far from wheat as a base.
Finally, is there anything you want your customers & clients to know, that they may never hear?
I don’t make the best bread in the city… but I know where you can get it…. its baked in your own home! Try it, I dare you!! (but not all the time as I don’t want to go out of business)
Do you ever want to rip into a fresh loaf of bread?
Yes, and I do every morning
What does the Prairie Mill fridge look like inside?
Stacks of yeast, butter, eggs and bananas. Also a jar or 2 of pickled beets… not for the bread, for me as the Proverb says, ‘do not muzzle thy oxen whilst it treads thy wheat.’ in other words, i snack and nothing hits the spot like pickled beets!
Best Sandwich Ingredient
Tomatoes…. wait is this a trick question?… maybe it should be bread….
Worst Sandwich Ingredient
Beverage of choice on airplanes
Beverage of choice on the golf course
Prairie Mill Bread Co.
14253 23 Ave NW