Vendor Feature: Proof Bread
Jon Przybyl didn’t want to imagine a world without Proof Bread. So, when he heard last June that owner Jared Allen was closing up shop and moving out of state, Jon bought the bakery and spent the few weeks before Jared’s move baking by his side.
“It wasn’t only me that would have been devastated to see Proof go away,” he said.
Jon, originally from Poland, and his wife, Amanda Abou-Eid, originally from Lebanon, both grew up loving bread and helping their families cook and bake. When they moved to Mesa two years ago and discovered Proof at an East Valley farmers market, Jon was delighted. The breads reminded him of the loaves and pastries he loved in Europe. Amanda especially loved the green olive sticks; Jon craved the pain au chocolat.
“We never had a clue what it took to produce that croissant that I consumed in a second,” Jon said.
But the couple quickly learned the ins-and-outs of baking fine pastries. Jon called Jared three days after he heard the news — three weeks before Jared was set to depart — and spent the remaining two-and-a-half weeks transitioning over the business.
Jon and Amanda are keeping the heart of Proof, but upgrading some ingredients and experimenting with new baked goods as well. They are also exploring the possibility of opening up a storefront in Mesa.
Jon nimbly scored the tops of sourdough loaves — the cuts into the risen dough add decoration and direct the bread how to expand in the oven — as he explained one morning in March what changes he and Amanda have made so far.
Proof Bread now sources its chocolate from DNA Chocolate in Chandler and its flour from Hayden Flour Mills in Queen Creek, making Proof the only bakery in the Phoenix-metro area using Hayden flour, Jon said. The olives come from Queen Creek Olive Mill.
“We just want to produce the best bread here,” he said.
For most Proof items, that process starts with a six-year-old sourdough starter or “mother” that the previous owner named after the characters of “Harriette” in the 1990s’ TV show “Family Matters” and “Harriet” in the 1993 movie “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” Jon said. This fermented starter provides the leavening in sourdough breads instead of the baker’s yeast used in other risen breads.
Jon excitedly shares about what he has learned — the power of heritage grains, the art of consistent loaves, the science of sourdough and oven mechanics — in the past year. Part of that excitement comes from being able to focus full time on this new work. At first, Jon was working two other jobs while starting to run Proof. At times, he was talking on a conference call through a bluetooth earpiece, while loading loaves of bread into the oven.
Now, he also has baking help. Jon and Amanda have hired a handful of additional bakers and market helpers, including Sydney Allen, who customers will often see at the Phoenix Public Market. One of their bakers is also heading to Tasmania, Australia, this summer to expand her expertise.
Regular market customers may also recognize their first-grade daughter Amara, who occasionally bakes and sells chocolate chip cookies to sell on Saturday mornings. Amara’s business started when she talked with her parents about the $10 savings she had and wanted to grow. She used that $10 to purchase her own ingredients and has enjoyed earning more money through the process, Jon said. Now, she’s expanded to three cookie varieties and a handmade booth banner.
Proof typically offers sourdough bread, baguettes, English muffins, and a variety of croissants and danishes on Saturday mornings. But Proof’s baked goods aren’t limited to only their booth. Hopping over to The Proper Beast’s stand, you can usually find sausage-cheddar biscuits and Italian sausage-parmesan ciabatta, featuring The Proper Beast sausage and baked by Proof. Proof’s more varietal baked goods can often turn you onto rare fruits and neighboring market products such as Carolyn’s Classics jam and Meyer lemons.
A huge thanks goes to our contributing guest writer and photographer Marlys Weaver-Stoesz. Discover more of Marlys’ work here.