Amano Pan will offer bread, pizza and a taste of Nicaragua at 3rd Street Market Hall
Things are picking up steam for 3rd Street Market Hall, which is slated to open soon at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. And the list of food vendors coming to the new food hall is growing day by day.
Among the players in the new downtown supplier is Amano Pan, a new concept that will be presented by baker Edgar Cuarezma and his wife Aemi Kato-Cuarezma.
The concept, which will include expertly baked naturally sourdough breads, vegetable-based sourdough pizzas and a shortlist of other complementary items, will debut as one of four hawker stall tenants. who will share a commissary kitchen with Dairyland Old Fashioned Hamburgers & Frozen Custard and Mid-Way Bakery.
Amano Pan will complement the ever-growing tenant group which includes Middle East Side, Hot Dish Pantry, Strega (fresh pasta and desserts), Brew City Apparel, Anytime Arepas, MaKE Waves, The Greenhouse and Supernova Coffee & Donuts.
Cuarezma, originally from Miami, Florida, began his career as an artist. After graduating in illustration from California, he moved to Chicago, where he lived for four years, curating gallery shows and working in framing to make ends meet.
In an unexpected turn, he finds himself in San Francisco. He had taken the plane with a friend without intending to stay; but as he made connections in the city and began to reflect on his career, he decided he needed a change.
“So I hit the reset button,” he says, noting that his personal radical change started with a simple loaf of bread. “I made a loaf… and then I started to wonder if I could make it better.”
His curiosity led him into a baking rabbit hole as he read books, researched, and delved into perfecting the art of leavened breads with wild yeast. As his career progressed, he found work at Arizmendi, a workers’ cooperative specializing in pastries, artisan breads and gourmet pizzas. It was a place that not only matched his values, but allowed him to hone his craft in a meaningful way.
While living in San Francisco, Kato-Cuarezma, whom he had known from high school, flew to visit him from New York, where she worked. Romanticism flourishes. But as the cost of living in the Bay Area became untenable, the couple briefly moved to Seattle.
“While we were living there, I received an email from one of the residents of Arizmendi, who asked me if we were interested in helping them open a cooperative in San Sebastian, Spain.” Cuarezma said, noting that the opportunity was too good to pass up.
He and his wife therefore moved to the Basque region of Spain, where they lived and worked until their visa expired.
“At that point,” he says, “I knew I wanted to start my own bakery. But I also knew we had to find a place to live where the cost of living was manageable.
For a while, they returned to Miami. But, as they grew increasingly frustrated with their prospects, the couple got a call from one of Kato-Cuarezma’s sisters, who lived in Wisconsin and suggested they might have more. luck in the Midwest.
Cuarezma accepted a baking job for Troubadour Bakery, 2301 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., where he was clear on his intentions.
“When I took the job,” he says. “They asked me where I wanted to be in five years, and I told them: either run your bread program or own my own business.”
When the pandemic struck and Cuarezma was put on leave, he again focused on making bread at home. But this time, he said, it was an exercise in self-care.
“I did it for fun,” he says. “I wanted to have fun again, not to worry about bread as a business. It was for me, not for anyone else.
He made so much bread that he says they have started giving it. Eventually he decided to sell breads under the name Amano, a multi-faceted word that is both a surname in Japanese meaning “heaven” and a term derived from the Latin word for “to love” which is translated into the Romance languages (both Spanish and Italian) as “to be done by hand”.
“Over time we started calling him Amano Pan, and the name stuck,” he says, “I like it because it brings together the Spanish language I grew up with as well as my interest for Japanese culture and aesthetics. ”
Eventually, Cuarezma said, he returned to work in Troubadour, where he was in charge of the bread program. But he continued to pursue his interest in launching the Amano Pan brand. So he contacted Jesus Gonzalez to see if he could use the Zocalo Food Park as a drop-off point for breads ordered by his customers. Gonzalez came up with something better: a series of pop-ups at the food park.
The pop-ups went well, he says, but ultimately his sideline created a conflict of interest with his day job. So Cuarezma says he started looking for a commercial kitchen where he could bake bread. The trip put him in touch with Chief Kurt Fogle, who expressed an interest in the business and asked if he would be interested in starting his business at 3rd Street Market Hall.
Amano Pan will specialize in natural sourdough breads, including popular all-purpose breads that Cuarezma simply calls “Amano Pan,” as well as items like baguettes, loaves and balls made from ingredients like flour. engrain and spent grains.
Cuarezma says selling your bread isn’t just about creating a great product. It’s all about using as much local produce as possible, including flours from Meadowlark Organics in Ridgeway, Wisconsin.
“We are looking at what bread should be, what food should be,” he says. “We want people to know where all of our ingredients come from: the local farmers who are not subsidized by government money. And, while baking good bread is very important to us, we also want to sell it at an affordable price. It must be accessible. ”
Amano pizzas will feature a thinner (but not crunchy) sourdough crust topped “to the edges” with seasonal vegetables and Wisconsin cheeses. Guests can expect basic cheese pizzas as well as a daily select pizza that showcases local and seasonal produce.
Cuarezma says that beyond breads and pasta, the menu is a collaboration with his wife, Aemi. “She has an incredible palate,” he says, “and is really great at combining flavors.”
His influence will come into play as they finalize many more dishes for the menu, including breakfast items like Amano Tostadas, an element that should not be confused with the crispy Mexican corn-based tostadas that prevail here in Milwaukee.
In fact, Cuarezma says that growing up in Florida, he was unfamiliar with Mexican tostadas. In fact, in Miami, the word “tostada” simply means “toast”.
Thus, the Amano Tostadas are slices of toasted homemade bread to be spread at the guests’ choice: butters flavored with citrus fruits, Provencal herbs or lavender honey; local jams, roasted garlic or tomato jam.
Guests can accompany this with a cup of coffee made from locally roasted beans, a cup of seasonal tea or a cup of hot or iced pinolillo, a Nicaraguan drink made from grilled corn, chocolate (which will come from Tabal Chocolate at Wauwatosa) and spices.
The drink would go wonderfully with other Amano Pan offerings including cookies and pan dulce (sweet breads), including Cuarezma’s rendition of picos, triangular Nicaraguan pastries stuffed with cheese, anko ( Japanese red bean paste) or a combination of cheese and honey.
Cuarezma says he is also engaged in the development of a taiyaki fried fish – a dish inspired by the traditional Japanese cake filled with red bean paste – made from a thin rye-based batter similar to a filled waffle. of frying components of fish and molded in the shape of “tai” (red sun ray fish).
Handmade fish fry might contain ensalada de repollo, a Nicaraguan coleslaw; or with coleslaw served on the side.
Eventually, he says, they’ll also introduce flavorful filled brioche (a treat that looks a lot like a donut, but filled with savory items like chili jam or minced meat).
Most importantly, Cuarezma says he wants Amano Pan’s mission to be evident in the operation of the business.
“Amano Pan is committed to both social and economic justice,” he says. “And we want that to be reflected in the way we treat customers and employees, as well as the way we interact with other businesses. We want to support and help uplift those who are traditionally marginalized. ”
Head over to @amano_pan on Instagram for more on what Cuarezma is up to.