OWL Bakery

Susannah Gebhart

OWL Bakery


Photo by Lynne Harty

What is your favorite part of being a restaurant owner in Asheville?

I’m often astonished at, and deeply appreciative of, how warm and supportive this community is, both in the industry and more broadly. Having a bakery in this inspired milieu of chefs, growers, foragers, food enthusiasts, and makers of every sort is a very particular kind of fortune — we have the opportunity to collaborate with and celebrate so many people doing the good work on a daily basis, and it makes our vocation consistently both exciting and gratifying.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

OWL is an acronym for Old World Levain (“levain” is the French word for sourdough), and it was what I called the first bread I made in the wood-fired oven when I started the bakery.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Personally: While it may seem pedestrian, lemons and Italian parsley (I know that is two, but I cannot choose, nor have one without the other! I would be happy eating most any food with a generous dose of both for the rest of my life). Professionally: Quite literally, flour and salt (again, two, but only two!)

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

In truth, simply buttered toast (with our oatmeal, barley, and buckwheat porridge loaf). If I’m feeling indulgent, I will take it with the perfect soft boiled egg and a little side salad.

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu?

The duck liver paté at Nightbell was perhaps the most ethereal thing I’ve eaten in a good amount of years and I still dream of it (y’all will be missed, and thank you!)

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

Do you choose Asheville, or does Asheville choose you? That’s a hard question. I was living here in West Asheville, and my baking path also followed me here, nipping at my heels. I did try to avoid it for some time, but ultimately I surrendered to it, and OWL happened. But truly, there is no other place where, or people for whom, I would rather bake!

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

A good bench scraper. It is a clean line, a measuring tool, cutting blade, smoothing device, and doughy-table cleaning aid (and sometimes a screwdriver in a pinch).