Alta Mira Baking Company announced the opening of its wholesale operations and is now delivering hand-crafted breads to accounts around the Bay Area. The milestone comes a year after Altamirano Restaurant Group took over the 46-year-old Vital Vittles production space in Berkeley.
After purchasing Vital Vittles in May 2022 to start their own baking company, Chef Carlos Altamirano and his wife, Shu, made the unexpected decision to continue baking Vital Vittles’ organic sandwich bread.
Alta Mira Baking Company combines the considerable culinary talents of Altamirano and Barrera, who are partners in the project. Initially, Alta Mira Baking will focus on its wholesale business. The inaugural catalog includes a wide selection of rolls, sandwich loaves, crusty table breads, focaccia, and pizza dough. In the future, the bakery will also offer pastries and other signature baked goods, as well as items for retail purchase at the bakery.
Part of the delay in opening Alta Mira Baking was the result of Altamirano and Barrera waiting for ovens to be delivered from French manufacturer Guyon. Barrera explained that very few bakeries in the U.S. employ this type of oven, which uses refractory bricks to allow for heat accumulation. This technology results in superior texture and crispy exterior that is ideal for pastry production. The ovens also offer significant energy savings. All of Alta Mira Baking’s products are made using organic flour from Giusto’s.
Barrera started his career working in the kitchen at Tra Vigne in St. Helena with Chef Michael Chiarello. Chiarello saw Barrera’s potential as a baker and introduced him to renowned French baker Pascal Rigo. Barrera went on to work with Rigo for ten years, overseeing the first in-store baking training programs at Mollie Stone’s Markets and Whole Foods, opening Bay Bread in San Francisco and fulfilling wholesale orders at The French Bakery in Ventura. Knowing of Barrera’s baking ability, Altamirano recruited him as a partner in Alta Mira Baking Company.
Altamirano trained under some of the Bay Area’s most celebrated chefs, including Reed Hearon of Rose Pistola, Bob Helstorm of Kuleto’s, Dave and Ann Gingrass of Hawthorne Lane and Bradley Ogden of One Market Restaurant.
“It’s been a dream of Carlos’s to open his own bakery,” said Barrera in a statement. “We are fortunate to have found a space in a central location that has a lot of historical significance. Together, we’re going to come up with some very unique recipes.” A few products that are in the testing phase already are a 100% whole wheat table loaf, a sourdough ciabatta and a sprouted bread.
Alta Mira Baking Company is located at 2810 San Pablo Ave in Berkeley, Calif. Alta Mira Baking’s first wholesale clients are Proper Food, Heartwood and all seven Altamirano Restaurant Group eateries. Customers can find VItal Vittles 100% whole wheat organic sandwich loaves at Berkeley Bowl, Piedmont Grocery and at Safeway and Andronico’s stores in the East Bay. For more information, visit altamirabaking.com.