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Wynwood's Zak the Baker is trading poems for bread

Man stands infront of a colorful wall
Courtesy of Zak Stern
Zak Stern is the founder of the Wynwood staple, Zak the Baker.

We heard about a deal that sounded too good to be true: Write a poem. Get a loaf of bread.

So, the Sundial team had to investigate.

Producer Elisa Baena and host Carlos Frías found themselves at the Wynwood bakery of Zak the Baker. Right there on the counter, a canary yellow index card reads: Poems for Bread. The challenge? Write a haiku about Miami food and trade it to the bakery for a loaf of its sourdough.

The man behind the operation is Zak Stern. You can credit Stern with starting the artisanal bread movement in South Florida more than a decade ago. He grew up culturally Jewish and secular in South Dade, but his bakery is kosher.

Stern bakes Miami culture into his food. Where else can you find homemade bagels and salmon smoked to taste like bacon side-by-side with kosher guava pastelitos?

He looks for ways to use his food to bring the Miami community together. Sometimes, Zak will trade bread for people’s backyard mangoes or avocados. Then, they become mango bread and avocado toast.

For the rest of October, he’s trading bread for poems.

Stern partnered with O, Miami to bring bread and beauty into the world, at a time when we could use more of both.

On the Oct. 24 episode of Sundial, Stern joined us to talk about bartering bread for poetry and baking his way into being a Wynwood staple.

On Sundial’s previous episode, we spoke with Nicole Tallman. She is an author and the poetry ambassador for Miami-Dade County. On Sundial, she talked about how living in South Florida helped her find her voice as a poet.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.
Julia Cooper reports on all things Florida Keys and South Dade for WLRN.