He was the surprise winner of last year’s Washington City Paperbaguette competition, in which his home-baked loaves beat out the best commercial breadmakers, large and small. His artisanal boules and baguettes even earned a place at the table when Alice Waters needed an emergency breadmaker for her charity dinner in D.C.
And now Samuel Fromartz has a book deal to write about bread. He has a project in the pipeline for Viking/Penguin to write what he calls, somewhat tongue in cheek, a “narrative nonfiction work about bread.” Its tentative title is A Perfect Loaf.
Fromartz isn’t sure yet when the book is scheduled for release, but he knows one thing for sure: It won’t be a memoir. He made sure his editor at Viking/Penguin understood that. A Perfect Loaf won’t track the arc of, as Fromartz jokes, “I was a drug addict dying on the streets, and I was saved by being a baker.”
Instead, he says, the book will be divided into three sections: one on the evolution of the artisanal bread movement, another on his own evolution as a breadmaker, and a third on the evolution of bread itself. The book will include recipes, he says, but it won’t be a recipe book.
“I wrote a proposal and put it out there,” Fromartz tells me. “I was actually pretty skeptical” that any publisher would be interested.
They were, however. Fromartz says he received two solid offers, which perhaps isn’t surprising given the author’s history. He’s been a business writer since 1985 and published the well-regarded, Organic Inc., four years ago with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. And more than a decade ago, Fromartz started experimenting with breadmaking. It’s turned into more than a hobby; he now writes occasionally on the subject for the Washington Post.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery