Sherry Yard, one of the best bakers in the country, is finally getting her own bakery — and not just any old bakery at that. The longtime Spago pastry chef is teaming up with Fathers Office owner Sang Yoon to revive the Los Angeles classic Helms Bakery in the landmark complex on Venice Boulevard.
It’s all happening very quickly. They’ll start serving breakfasts three days a week at FO in January, trying out ideas, and plan to have the full operation going by September.
It’s a plan that took some time to work out. Yard says she’d been looking around for a space for quite a while but hadn’t found anything that felt just right.
In 2011 she took her husband to the Chefs Night Out event at the James Beard Foundation Awards in New York and ran into Yoon. She asked him how he liked being at the Helms Bakery complex (where he has both a Father’s Office and the more upscale Lukshon). She told him she was thinking of doing a bakery and had been impressed with how well the owners (the Walter Marks family) seemed to run the place.
“He just grabbed my arm and said, ‘Oh my god, I’ve had plans to do a bakery there for the last two years and just couldn’t find the right partner. You were at the top of my list but I never dreamed you’d be interested.’”
She says they stayed up until 3 a.m making plans and continued in a texting conversation on their flights home the next day.
It took quite a while to get all the details worked out. And Yard had to find her replacement at Spago (it’ll be Della Gossett, formerly of Charlie Trotter’s and the French Pastry School in Chicago). Yard had been at the restaurant for 19 years, rising to executive pastry chef for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, responsible for desserts at all of the various Puck restaurants.
The bakery will be located in the Helms Bakery District complex in Culver City, in a 10,000-square-foot space that had been part of the H.D. Buttercup furniture store. In addition to a full line of baked goods, including breads and pastries, there will be a cafe serving breakfast and lunch.
Yard says she hopes that among the offerings will be some classic items from the Helms Bakery, which closed in 1969. “We’re going to have the best cream puffs and doughnuts we can make,” she says.
“That’s what this is all about,” she says. “I don’t feel like it’s my place and Sang doesn’t feel like it’s his. We feel like we’re bringing something back. This is about creating memories. It’s about bringing back things we’ve loved.”