Bread Baker. Oven Operator. Pastry Pro. Wake up and grab a bite at Persephone Bakery with chef and owner, Kevin Cohane.
“Let’s go see what’s happening at the bakery.”
“I think my wife hid all my ‘normal’ clothes, hoping I wouldn’t wear them anymore,” Kevin Cohane says dryly. He’s digging around in a hall closet for a missing jacket. After locating the canvas in question, he yells goodbye to Ali (his wife), Sophie and Mabel (their two dogs) and we walk into the crisp Wyoming morning. “Follow me,” he says. “Let’s go see what’s happening at the bakery.”
In 2011, Kevin (alongside Ali) started Persephone Bakery in Jackson. Originally from Connecticut, Kevin came out West to ski and made a living cooking in local restaurants. Ali, from Chicago, waited tables and studied graphic design. When Kevin returned to Wyoming from Paris after studying at Le Cordon Bleu, Persephone came to life in a warehouse space in South Jackson.
Kevin would bake fresh, artisanal goods each day, wholesaling them to local businesses, and his bread yielded an overwhelming demand. Last year, he and Ali opened a whitewashed Café space on West Elk Street, downtown, serving a full breakfast and lunch menu alongside the fresh bread and pastries that put them on the map.
Kevin still bakes during the busy summer season (a job that requires a 4am start time), but since winter in Jackson is “slow” by local’s standards, his morning today is relaxed. Earlier, he’d hand-ground coffee beans while Ali prepared loose leaf tea. The dogs – tired from yesterday’s hike, Kevin tells us – are slumped leisurely on the wood floors. “We’re both pretty much up and out of here on most days; so we don’t keep much food in the house,” Ali had said. “We’ve even had to ask friends to pick up a loaf of bread before stopping by for dinner… for a couple who owns a bakery, that’s pretty embarrassing.”
Kevin’s only morning grooming ritual is cleaning off his Warby Parker frames. “They’ve always got flour on them,” he laughs. “So, I stockpile lens wipes from Costco and scrub them down before I leave the house.” A short drive from home finds us in a South Jackson industrial park framed by snow-covered peaks – Persephone HQ. Inside the large space, several bakers mix dough and fashion loaves, pulling large racks of fresh bread from the massive ovens. Kevin’s pastry chef cuts brownie squares and stacks homemade S’mores. Kevin shows us how to use a ‘guitar cutter’ to slice pink, marshmallow confections. “These days, I spend a lot less time baking, and a lot more time fixing stuff,” Kevin smiles. “I’ve kind of learned to love oven maintenance.”
Once the day’s deliveries are loaded into the delivery van and Kevin’s Suburban (the plastic bins share space with his skis), it’s time to drive back towards town, to the Café – they open at 7:00am. Kevin slips into the back of the restaurant, head down, his pants and boots streaked with flour. He pours himself a coffee behind the already bustling counter.
“I’ve kind of learned to love oven maintenance.”
Ali has arrived in the office, and Kevin swings through her office to chat with her, sipping his drink. They offer us breakfast, and soon herbed omelets, rabbit sausage and chocolate croissants appear on a reclaimed wood table. As we dig in, Kevin stands propped up against the counter. “That’s kind of it,” he says in his gentle manner. “This is pretty much what I do.” Then he disappears.