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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Zak The Baker Keeps It Kosher

Rolls coming out of an oven

Zak Stern explains just how big a deal it is to run a kosher bakery.

Listen to the episode

In Miami’s artsy Wynwood neighborhood, there’s a colorfully painted building that has people lining up around the block. Customers wait patiently for bagels, guava-cheese pastries and other treats. But not on Saturdays. The bake shop known as Zak the Baker is a kosher bakery that closes every week for the Jewish Sabbath.

But the owner, 36-year-old Zak Stern, is not as religious as you might think.

“I never went to a kosher restaurant in my life growing up. I wasn’t raised religious. I was raised secular in Miami,” Zak says. “My relationship with Judaism was really just the food and friends. I was a very typical non-religious Jew in Miami. There’s a big tribe of us.”

But that all changed when Zak met his now-wife, Batsheva Wulfsohn.

“The rebel in me decided to marry a religious girl who is Israeli,” Zak says. “Once I did that, it really flipped the script upside down because suddenly my house had to become kosher, and suddenly Saturdays are Shabatt. Suddenly everything changed.”

Including Zak’s bakery.

“Soon after that, [my wife] said, ‘Well, we have to make the bakery kosher, because I want to be able to eat in it,’” Zak recalls. “And I said, ‘Yeah, sure, babe. And I had no idea what that actually meant. It’s a big deal.”

Zak explains just how big a deal it is to run a kosher bakery in his conversation with The Zest. He also shares why he trimmed his trademark beard and why he has no plans to expand Zak the Baker to other cities.

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