After 20 years in professional kitchens, Chef Ron Mendoza is now working in a brewery. Not on the beer side – he’s behind Ad Astra Bread Co., located inside Other Brother Beer Co. on Broadway in Seaside. Baking bread is an art Mendoza has just begun to master, from dark and rustic loaves to focaccia. And he brings a chef’s touch to the spread, making his own butter, mustard and dressings to adorn bread available by the slice.
“Anything that we do, we’re going to try to make ourselves,” he says. “It’s simple food, but it’s made right.”
Weekly: Where’d you get the name Ad Astra?
Mendoza: It’s the name of a song I love by Deer Hunter. I also saw this painting I liked in Chicago called “Ad Astra.” It means “to the stars,” and bread rises – it all just fit.
Your social media presence is very music-oriented. Who do you listen to while you bake?
This morning we listened to Hüsker Dü. Yesterday I listened to Brian Eno while working my starter; I think maybe it makes a difference in the bread.
What are you bringing to the local bread community?
Real sourdough bread. I want big, dark, rustic, country loaves. We’re doing long fermentation with natural yeasts. And I’m trying not to sell things for over $10. I want to compete with fast food, but I’m selling quality food.
What is the best bread and beer pairing at Ad Astra and Other Brother?
Their oatmeal stout and our cinnamon raisin chocolate bread. Their brewer is drying out a ton of old loaves right now. He wants to make a beer out of it.
What’s your bread guilty pleasure?
My girlfriend used to eat a lot of Uncrustables. I was like, “What? This is nasty.” But then you eat it and you’re like, “This is great.” It’s the worst.