Sea Cliff resident David Shalam left a career in consumer electronics to pursue a dream…and Glen Cove is the luckier for it. Armed with six months of intensive bread and pastry training from NYC’s International Culinary Institute (formerly the French Culinary Institute), and a love for baking homemade popovers that dates back to childhood Thanksgivings, Shalam founded Heritage Bakers in 2014 . He began baking the flaky, buttery rolls—a cross between challah and brioche—out of a kitchen in Eastern Long Island, doing the Farmer’s Market circuit and soon selling to local businesses like Rising Tide Market (we’ve been carrying their Popovers for years and our customers love them). In March 2017, he started a wholesale business, and just this August, opened his welcoming café/bakery down in Garvies Point.
Between the bakery and his wholesale business, Shalam can make up to 1,000 popovers a day on the weekends. They come in three sizes (mini, medium and large) and two flavors: Original and Cinnamon Sugar. In addition to the popovers, Shalam makes a range of cookies, scones (including the DIVINE bacon and cheddar), pastries and breads. As of now, the café—featuring reclaimed wood for a modern feel and complete with a separate area for kids to play—is open Friday-Sunday from 8 am-4 pm, but Shalam has plans to expand to seven days a week.
We sat down with the man behind the popovers, to learn more about the bakery and what it means to be part of the local Glen Cove business community.
RT: What makes Heritage Bakers different than other bakeries?
DS: We use a heritage whole wheat flour, primarily grown in the 1700s-1950s, before they started making more hybridized wheat for greater gains. Modern wheat is filled with stabilizers, enhancers and additives that were not part of the heritage wheat.
After much trial and error, the heritage wheat I use, grown in Western Canada and milled in North Carolina, has great flavor, great nutrition, wonderful taste and is super fresh. I use it in everything we make, in varying degrees, and use organic wheat flour to fill in here and there.
RT: What is your favorite way to eat a popover?
DS: I tell people that it all depends on what you’re into. Eating with honey butter [made in-house] is a classic. For savory, we make a Parmesan popover with meatballs and mozzarella. They’re also good with a nice chicken salad or lobster salad. For breakfast, we do scrambled eggs and cheese with crumbled bacon. For a sweet popover, you can fill with pastry cream or ice cream. Drizzle caramel or chocolate on top.
RT: What’s next for Heritage Bakers? What’s coming around the bend that we can look forward to?
DS: I’d like to do more breads, more pastries, more danish. I want to get the café open every day, selling breakfast and lunch—soup or salad and a popover. I’d love to talk to Jerry [Farrell, owner of Rising Tide Market] about bringing in some of the Rising Tide salads to pair with my popovers, because they’re THAT GOOD.
RT: When you’re not noshing on your own breads and treats… What are you loving to eat right now?
DS: When I get home the last thing I want to do is cook, but I do love to grill. So anything off the grill. I like a good burger or some nice sausage.
RT: So many in our community dream of starting their own local business. What is your one piece of advice for launching a successful local biz?
DS: You need a lot of patience, and support from your family. And a positive attitude. Every day is a new day. Look at the big picture and realize that its one day at a time, and don’t get ahead of yourself.
RT: How has it been to open your business in Glen Cove? Have you felt welcomed by this community?
DS: Overwhelmingly welcomed! Everyone is so friendly and nice and are telling their friends about us. Having the guys next door at Wilson’s Martial Arts and the Garvies Point Craft Brewery has also been great. The Brewery customers love their IPAs, and they’re into ingredients, so we share a similar vibe. We make French Bread pizzas to sell to their customers.
I’m not super religious but I believe in good energy. So a lot of what I do here is take all that energy and focus on the positive. Everyone in Glen Cove has been so positive. And we feed off that energy.