Now celebrating its 20th year in business, City Bakery remains a favorite downtown spot to enjoy both exceptional, handmade pastries, as well as a fresh, market-driven lunch. Yesterday, Maury Rubin, creator, baker, and designer of City Bakery, sat down with author and ICE Instructor Alexandra Leaf for a lecture and discussion with ICE students about how he opened and operates the business. Rubin shared his insights on the business of baking, including current trends and observations, making it an invaluable chance for the ICE students to learn more about owning and operating a business and see his perspective on how a business can be aware of where the food they serves comes from. It was a fascinating discussion with one of New York City’s local food world stars.
Rubin began his career doing almost anything but pastry. In fact, prior to baking, Rubin was a two-time Emmy Award winning producer and director at ABC Sports Television in New York City. But after a six-day pastry class in 1986, he was inspired. Rubin did an apprenticeship in France, then returned to New York City to open The City Bakery in 1990, calling it an updated model of the classic American neighborhood bakery.
Rubin emphasized that one of his primary goals was to always be mindful of the environment. He said that, “Every bag of flour that we’ve ever used from day one has been organic.” He emphasized that he was using organic products at a time when people associated the word with their organic chemistry classes in high school. Also, Rubin’s menu emphasizes what is seasonal and local throughout the year. He said, “When we opened, most fruit in bakeries came out of a can, but at City Bakery we used what was fresh.” For example, to this day you can only find strawberry tarts on the menu in the late summer when the fruit is in season. Rubin said, “When we opened the whole word of local and artisan food wasn’t there yet. I was there before the revolution.” The discussion was an invaluable chance for the ICE students in attendance to peek inside one of New York’s most successful culinary businesses.