Baker Kate Pepper elevates Ojai mornings at the Dutchess

Ojai, CA - May 6: Kate Pepper, owner of Kate's . Bakery

Baker’s colleague Kate Pepper at Dutchess likes to call her Brigitte Bar-dough.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Brigitte Bar-dough is what Kate Pepper’s colleagues call her at Dutchess’s new bakery, Ojai and Burmese-themed restaurant. This talented 42-year-old baker has amassed 41,000 followers on Instagram.

Pepper, an Ojai native, started making bread after a breakup with her farmer boyfriend, with whom she manages a CSA. “I came out of a 12-year relationship with nothing,” she said. “It’s his home, his business, his everything.”

She moved into her parents’ home and worked three part-time jobs – even setting up a massage parlor in the warehouse behind the new Ojai restaurant Rory’s Place – to support her 13-year-old daughter, Francine. She bought a pizza oven on Craigslist for $1,000, and with the help of Tartine’s “Bread Book” and working at Milo & Olive in LA, she taught herself how to roll and laminate.

Kate Pepper, owner of Kate's Bread, poses for a portrait at The Dutches.

Kate Pepper, an Ojai native, said she started making sandwiches due to a breakup with a boyfriend.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

A wide range of items from Kate's Bread are seen at The Dutches.

Kelsey Brito hosts barbecues at Dutchess.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

She started Kate’s Bread in 2013; until last fall it was sold out in her father’s lumber shop. Initially, she sold her wares at Farmer and the Cook, an Ojai cafe and organic market. In January 2020, she switched to selling cakes twice a week to customers on the website. That April, she sold off her entire inventory (200 loaves, 100 croissants, scones, and cinnamon rolls) in an hour, sometimes within five minutes.

“Kate’s country cookies are thick, crunchy and the flavor is perfectly balanced – not too sweet or sour,” says Sal Avina, who occasionally drives from Pasadena to Pasadena to buy a couple of loaves.

A smiling woman sitting with her arms crossed

Zoe Nathan, owner of Dutchess, used to work with Kate Pepper at Milo + Olive.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Her system gaming has become a new pastime for Ojai. If you’re lucky enough to land a Turkish simit or a pumpkin loaf in your online shopping cart, dither and it could disappear by the time you’re ready to pay. Pepper closed its operations in November when a sourdough-loving bear scratched the wall of a lumber shop.

Last spring, Zoe Nathan, Pepper’s former boss at Milo + Olive, asked her to oversee the morning shift at Dutchess, one of four ambitious new restaurants that opened in town during the era Translate. Pepper signed on and today, Dutchess’ pastry box showcases all of the baked goods she offers in the wood store as well as co-baker Kelsey Brito’s fruit crumbs, chocolate coconut tea cakes and walnut pecans scones. (Brito and Pepper are among the partners at Dutchess.)

“Very quickly, Ojai became a foraging site,” says Pepper. “This is something the town has never had before. I hope it works, because Ojai is a beautiful place worthy of good restaurants. ” Baker Kate Pepper elevates Ojai mornings at the Dutchess

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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