Jyan Isaac Horwitz is not your typical teenager, aside from being a young man of few words. When other 19-year-olds were just stumbling in from a night of pre-Covid partying, Horwitz was getting up at 4:30 a.m. to express himself by quietly kneading a seeded sourdough in his own bakery that is flying off the shelves right now.
Located two doors down from the iconic Evett’s Model shop on Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica, which recently closed after 71 years and where Horwitz and his dad would buy remote control planes, Jyan Isaac Bread has opened a storefront for in-store pickup and delivery, and the teenager is following his passion for baking bread.
That passion started at age 16, when he bought the Tartine bread book and began experimenting at home after reading it from cover to cover. Soon after, he landed a spot on the Gjusta bread line, one of the most respected and accomplished in Los Angeles.
“I’m sure he wasn’t all that helpful at the very beginning, but they gave him a shot,” says dad Bruce Horwitz, co-owner of the Tasting Kitchen in Venice and the new Ghisallo pizzeria located in the same space as his son’s bakery which opens on Tuesday.
“They put him on this team of eight older Oaxacan men who spoke very little English. They joked that he would last about three weeks, that he was just one of those romantics who likes to pitch in but has never been in a commercial kitchen or done this kind of work. He made it through the first year and then told me he was not going back to high school. After the initial shock, I told him to take the GED and if he passed it he could keep working. He hasn’t stopped since.”
A personalized hybrid between Lodge Bread and the Tartine version, Jyan Isaac Bread uses yecora wheat from Cairnspring Mills in Washington State as well as cultured butter from Vermont creamery, which is fermented with live bacterial kefir culture and results in a unique flavor when salted. The seeded sourdough is covered in a delicate mix of white sesame seeds, brown flaxseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds which blanket a chewy crust and tender interior. The marble rye is a psychedelic braid of rustic richness and there are ambitious plans for a holiday panettone. As with the baguettes, all the breads are preservative-free and are highly hydrated, giving them a decent shelf life of almost a week.
Father and son will be working side by side starting on Tuesday, when Bruce opens Ghisallo, named after a mountain in Northern Italy popular with cyclists, in the former Slice pizza space. What was designed to be the little sister restaurant to the Tasting Kitchen, former Pizzana chef David Rodriguez will join the team serving Neapolitan-style pizza to go.
In the meantime, as the pandemic has resulted in many bakery jobs lost, Jyan hired on some of his former Gjusta colleagues as well as some of his fellow Hamilton High students, where he studied to be a jazz drummer at the original School of Rock.
“These guys are beautifully idealistic and will geek out on grain,” says Bruce, whose only input is a little bit of business advice. “If you listen to him and David Rodriguez talk, they will go on endlessly about protein levels in different grains and how old they are. They’re nuts about the living thing that is bread. He needs to be on his feet doing things, he’s one of those kind of learners.
“Jyad and I spent many hours in the model shop. It’s crazy to think he started his own business just two doors down from Evett’s. So many families with kids who play soccer across the street had been coming to Slice for years, and I can’t promise that the pizza will be the same, but I can promise that we will keep the old slice price for all kids with a student ID from Santa Monica. We’ll have a price that matches the old price. My kids did that – they came and hung out after volleyball finals. That’s very meaningful to me.”
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