Dewey Hall's Sourdough Bread Baking Competition

Tasty Event in the Berkshires

By: - Feb 09, 2022

Dewey Hall is to hold a sourdough bread baking competition on Friday, March 4th with the help of Katy Sparks (Chef/Owner of Katy Sparks Culinary Consulting and host of Edible Natural World) and Evelyn Battaglia (Food Writer/Cookbook Editor), who have offered their culinary expertise to the organizational team for this event.

Attendees will be invited to sample the contestants' breads, wine from DéPart, beer from Big Elm Brewery, and cheese from Rubiner’s Cheesemongers, and have the opportunity to win loaves of freshly baked sourdough bread via a raffle. "Combining delicious artisan bread, cheese, wine, and convivial company is not a new concept - just a reliably great one!" says Sparks.

The main sponsor for the event is Warrior Trading, with Rubiner’s cheesemongers, DéPart, Big Elm Brewery, and The Berkshire Food Co-op providing food and beverages. 

The origins of sourdough bread date to around 14,000 years ago according to archeological evidence. The use of yeast however is relatively recent in the history of bread making, dating to the past 150 years. Before that, sourdough culture was the only leavening agent — and that traditional method has experienced a resurgence in home baking.

According to Battaglia: "Making sourdough bread is equal parts alchemy and sensory enjoyment. There's gratification in feeding and nurturing your starter, working and folding the dough, and pulling the deeply browned loaves from the oven. And the distinctive tang and open crumb can only be achieved by the slow fermentation process." Dewey Hall President Beth Carlson states “Sourdough bread baking is an ancient craft that has gained new interest and attention in the last decade. We are celebrating this art by giving bakers a chance to show their skill, and offering attendees a fun culinary experience.” 

The contest will have a single cash prize winner in each of two categories; Traditional Sourdough and Gluten-Free Sourdough. Bakers will enter two full-size loaves of bread, one for tasting/judging and one to be raffled off. 

Writer/Performer Melanie Greenberg (The Elephant in the Room) will MC the event. The culinary celebrity judges will be Rachel Portnoy, (former owner of Chez Nous/Cafe Triskele and baking instructor at Canyon Ranch), Patrizia Barbagallo (owner of Pixie Boulangerie), and Robbie Robles (owner of Roberto’s Pizza). Live music will be provided by Michael Junkins.

Dewey Memorial Hall was built in 1887 by The Sheffield Friendly Union, a community organization with the mission “to promote kindly feelings, cheerfulness, and intelligence.” Dewey Hall has been focusing on how to make that mission relevant in today’s world with a series of “Community Gala” interactive fundraising events. 

Bakers who wish to enter may pre-register here by February 21st:

Tickets for spectators include bread, wine, and cheese tastings, and can be purchased here:

For more information visit

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