Featured Chef: Iris Sullivan Daire from the Blue Scorcher Bakery Café
By Michelle Judd from Taste As You Go
During a recent lunch hour on the East Coast, I had the opportunity to speak with Iris Sullivan Daire, owner of the Blue Scorcher Bakery Café as she enjoyed a day off from work on the West Coast. As if the tantalizing menu on their website wasn’t enough to make me want to visit, our conversation almost prompted me to jump on the next plane to Oregon!
How did you choose this field?
It’s ironic that I am where I am. I grew up cooking and wound up taking a job in a bakery to put myself through college, but I was never one of those people who would just die if they didn’t spend the rest their lives baking. The scheme to open a bakery was actually my husband’s, but none of his business partners knew how to bake! Naturally, I stepped into that role quite easily.
What is the food philosophy at the Blue Scorcher?
We believe in sustainable practices and promoting local food as much as possible. Our mission at the bakery is “Joyful Work, Delicious Food, and Strong Community.” When people are spending time together and eating together, something bigger happens. But our mission isn’t restricted to how we interact with our customers. We also try to create a strong community among ourselves through joyful work because the first round of people we serve is made up of our coworkers.
The café is set up deli-style to encourage our customers to own their space. With wait staff around, you are viscerally reminded that you are a guest of the establishment. When you take away the wait staff, you take away the discomfort and create a true space for the community.
Why did you choose the name “Blue Scorcher”?
“Scorcher” is a slang term from the 1890s for a bicycle or a bicyclist. It was around this time that the design of the bicycle was revolutionized and the change in the design allowed women to go out alone for the first time. (Prior bicycle models did not accommodate women’s fashion of the period.) It’s been said that the change in the design really pushed the edge and pushed society forward. We feel we’re trying to do the same at our bakery.
Also, all of the founders have a personal connection with cycling. We even use bicycles to make our deliveries and to travel to-and-from the local farmer’s markets for fresh ingredients. The bicycle helps us reiterate our beliefs in sustainability.
Do you have a cooking or baking tip to share with us?
A lot of pastry baking depends on the temperature and texture of the butter. If you forget to take the butter out of the refrigerator and need it to be softened before you use it, just whack it with a rolling pin. The butter becomes elastic and soft even though it’s still cold to the touch. When you do this, you’ll notice that the butter will lose a lot of its water, resulting in butter with a higher fat content, which will then result in a richer flavor and a flakier texture.
What’s next for the Blue Scorcher?
We’re looking to install a hood this year so we can do breakfast at the café. Right now, our kitchen consists of two hot plates and a panini grill. We want to be able to expand the menu and the breakfast options to include items such as omelets and pancakes and waffles.
Blue Scorcher Bakery Café
1493 Duane Street
Astoria , OR 97103
Hours: 8 AM to 5PM, Sunday-Saturday