This Driggs-based bakery mixes ancient traditions with local ingredients and high-tech equipment.
// By Sue Muncaster
When I asked my two visiting grandnieces (two- and five-years-old) what they wanted from the supermarket, they both shouted “raisin bread!” They didn’t know this, but my neighborhood market, Victor Valley Market, stocks amazing raisin bread, courtesy of Teton Valley-based 460 Bread. But raisin bread is among 460 bread’s most popular loaves, so heading there from my home, I hoped there was a loaf left. There was. Back at home, I slathered toasted slices with butter. When the girls headed home a few days later, they left with four frozen loaves we’d had to visit two different grocery stores to find.
Now, sharing this story with 460 Bread’s newish owner Ben Ellis—he and wife, Shannon, bought the bakery in 2020—he laughs but isn’t surprised. “Mass-produced raisin bread is usually just white bread with a lot of sugar and some raisins thrown in,” he says. The raisin bread at 460 is made with an artisan wheat dough with a levain starter and sponge preferments. This combination builds the taste, texture, and acidity that give each loaf a rich flavor. “Commercial bakeries do this with chemicals, preservatives, and antifungals that only contribute to the [bread’s] ability to sit on a shelf,” Ellis says.
Although people have been baking bread for around ten thousand years, artisan bread today is often high-tech. Like the first bread bakers, 460 Bread makes hearth breads—breads baked in stone ovens without a pan. Its stone, which is giant, is inside a German-designed, Czech-built convection oven the size and shape of a Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram car. Bakery co-founder Jarod Pfeiffer brought this oven, called a deck oven, because it maintains the perfect temperature to bake baguettes (within 1 degree). A Japanese dividing machine makes sure every brioche bun is a consistent size. The next big piece of equipment Ellis hopes to install is a slicing and bagging machine.
As high-tech as the equipment can be, 460’s ingredients are simple. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy to find. “Each ingredient has a story,” Ellis says. “We live in a breadbasket for artisan breads where you want mostly low-protein winter wheat. Idaho and Montana mills provide most of what we need.” The bakery sought out a sustainable source of olives from Italy via a distributor in Denver.
The bakery sells to grocery stores, markets, and restaurants. It makes approximately 40 different bread products daily, using between 7 and 11 different types of dough. Between five and seven of 460’s breads—including French baguettes, sourdough, ciabatta, olive-thyme, my grandnieces’ favorite raisin bread, and brioche burger buns—are available at grocery stores and markets including Whole Foods, Albertsons, Pearl Street Market, and Smith’s in Jackson; Aspens Market and Base Camp in Wilson; and at Victor Valley Market, Barrels & Bins, and Broulim’s in Teton Valley. The 30-some other breads are made to different restaurants’ specifications. A total of 150 restaurant clients includes Sweet Cheek Meats, Trio, Gather, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Snake River Grill, and Grand Targhee. (For Grand Targhee, 460 is working with chef Eric Gruber to make a bread with artisan russet potatoes.) “This business is like a puppy,” Ellis says. “It’s like a living thing we are shepherding. From the delivery drivers to the yeast strains, we’re just trying to care for them and direct them so they can reach their potential.”
Jarod Pfeffer and Ty Mack founded 460 Bread in 2010. College buddies, the duo mastered the old-world skills of baking bread at the San Francisco Baking Institute and then set up shop in a 3,000-square-foot space in Driggs, Idaho. In 2020 they moved the bakery into a 15,000-square-foot facility north of Driggs and began looking to sell the business. They didn’t have to look far. Their friend Ben Ellis, a former Teton County Commissioner whose day job was working on corporate energy projects, was looking for a new work challenge. Today Pfeffer and Mack stay involved as advisors. JH