If you’re a fan of Farrell Family Bread, you might have met manager Rick Miller at the bakery, 8034 S. Yale Ave., or at the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market, where customers stand in line for focaccia, sourdough and whatever else he has made.
How long have you been with Farrell and what led you there?
I’m starting my 13th year here. I had been back in Tulsa after working in D.C. for about five years. I had worked in an artisan bread bakery in D.C., as well, and Tom (Farrell, founder) was needing help at the same time. It just worked out.
What time do you start your day and what’s the first thing you do when you get to work?
I get up about 2:45 a.m., watch the early news, have a cup or two of tea and get to the bakery between 4:30 and 5 a.m. I look at the wholesale orders that are going out or have just gone out and make sure we have the right amounts of everything that was ordered.
What’s the top-selling bread at Farrell?
It’s a toss-up between sourdough and Tuscan. Challah is a big seller, too.
Have you ever made a bread that wasn’t a hit with customers?
We used to make a whole spelt bread. I loved it; it just didn’t sell well. It had a nice natural, nutty flavor.
What’s your favorite bread at Farrell?
I bring home sourdough, rustic baguette and, when we have it, brioche. We mainly only make brioche for special orders for restaurants, but sometimes I’ll add an extra or two to the mix.
Where do you go out to eat when you don’t want to cook?
I have a few favorite places: SMOKE. on Cherry Street, Juniper, Tavolo. I really love Roppongi and Laffa. I’ve had great meals at the Tavern and the Palace Cafe.
If you could invite anyone for dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
Aside from grandparents who aren’t around anymore, I think Jacques Pepin. The man has so much talent and experience, and I love his paintings. I would love to cook another porchetta (pork belly encased in a pork loin and roasted) with polenta like I did for friends last summer.
What person has had the most influence on your culinary career?
As a kid, the only cooking show on TV was "The French Chef" with Julia (Child) and, later, "Galloping Gourmet." I watched them every time they were on. My mom said I was weird when they were making octopus, and as a 10-year-old kid in the middle of Oklahoma I said, "Man, I’d love to try that."
When I worked for James Shrader in the late ’90s at Finales downtown, he was a big influence. He is a very good teaching chef if someone shows the desire and drive to learn.