Golden Sheaf Bakery
Bread is the Essence of Life for Joe Platin of Golden Sheaf Bakery
Julia Child asked: "How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?” Apparently, Julia never tasted the bread made by Joe Platin’s bakery, Golden Sheaf Bread Company that has been making artisan bread in Santa Cruz since 1986.
The love of bread making has been a driving force in Joe Platin’s life. Born in 1955 to professional parents living in Los Angeles, Joe was expected to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and become a doctor. But Joe’s calling turned out to be tending to dough, not patients.
Joe was in high school when he was introduced to making bread by his older sister Laurel, then a student at UCSC. She showed him how to use a sour dough starter to make pancakes and breads. “I was fascinated by the chemistry of the yeast and how the combination of temperature, humidity, and time affected the dough and the quality of what came out of the oven,” said Joe.
A summer job at Yoseph’s Bakery in Aptos got him hooked. He loved the camaraderie of working elbow to elbow with the old timers who made bread the old fashioned way, and the intensity of meeting the quota for the day. During his college years at San Jose State, he worked at a bakery five nights a week from 10 p.m. until the bread was done.
After graduation, Joe was hired by Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria, and worked closely with co-owner Joe Ortiz to develop their line of breads and manage the bread making. A year later, the Ortizes helped Joe secure an internship at a bakery in Paris. After months of observing, the bakers finally let Joe make his first cuts on the baguettes. “It was a triumphant day, one of my favorite memories,” Joe beamed.
After moving to an Israeli kibbutz for six months, Joe returned to California in 1984. The Buttery was about to open and Joe was hired by the owner, Janet Hiromura, who had also worked at Gayle's. The pair worked together some 18 hours a day to get the business going, and it quickly took off. “I was making the bread and I was in heaven,” said Joe. After a year, Joe was up to a new challenge and he decided to start a wholesale bread business. Because there was no room to expand at the Buttery, he borrowed money from his parents and launched Golden Sheaf Bakery Company. He credits the success and longevity of Golden Sheaf with always providing his customers what they wanted, whether it was softer texture or hamburger buns, and maintaining consistent quality.
It’s been many years since Joe has had his hand in the dough; his role shifted from baking at The Buttery and Golden Sheaf to managing in 1988. Joe found he had the freedom to take on an exciting new challenge: master category bicycle racing. “It’s perfect, I’ve got the best of both worlds.” Another significant change: Joe and Janet were married in 1992. “It all came together for me at the Buttery. My heart and inspiration is here, and with Janet.” How sweet it is.
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