In the two years since that conversation, Roy, who used to bake dinner bread with his grandmother while growing up outside Montreal, has transformed himself from a hobbyist to a professional baker. He’d made the transition from amateur to expert once before: When he was a 21-year-old graphic designer in Nashville, he bought a Minolta X-370 to shoot test images for his girlfriend, an aspiring model; three years later, he moved to Paris with $400 in his pocket and a dream of becoming the next Richard Avedon. In the early days, his process revolved around the painstaking technique of developing his own color film, but as digital took over, it left him yearning for something new to do with his hands. Last year, he enrolled in a bread-making boot camp at the San Francisco Baking Institute, and back home, he rented a 7,000-square-foot red brick building in downtown Hudson to create a 50-seat bakery called Breadfolks. Roy designed the space and did much of the finishing himself, reimagining it with hardwood floors, whitewashed walls and Germanic stencil typography on a coal-black facade. He bought Italian baking equipment, including a stainless-steel Logiudice oven, known for its precision, and plunged his fingers into the flour.
Roy was determined from the start that Breadfolks, which has a dozen or so employees, not be a vanity project. He starts baking at 4:30 each morning, adjusting recipes as he goes. “A Breadfolks product is something that has these deep undertones of caramel and chocolate,” Roy says. He’s captivated by the Maillard reaction, in which sugars and amino acids are activated by heat to brown the ear and belly of the bread, and though he makes ciabatta, focaccia, bagels, baguettes, croissants and cruffins, his signature is a custardy country loaf that blends whole wheat and rye. “My products have a patina feel to them,” Roy says. “I like texture.” The bakery, which officially opened in August, was an instant hit, and by early September, they were selling 1,000 pounds of bread each weekend.
Still, success is relative in this line of work: “I’m making a living two, three dollars at a time,” Roy says. “There’s nothing more humbling than that after spending years in five-star hotels and private jets.” He and Joanna are also launching a coffee brand, Roastfolks, along with a utilitarian, all-matte stoneware line called Clayfolks, creating a complete ecosystem in one building. The next step is franchising. “I’m not interested in ever opening a Breadfolks in New York City or places like that,” says Roy, whose photography is now mostly relegated to his bakery’s Instagram feed. “My intention is to create these micro bakeries in these micro places.”