La Farm Bakery at Whole Foods


La Farm Bakery opens a new location

When the new Whole Foods Market opens at Alston Town Center in Cary this month, it will carry more than local produce. It will also feature an outpost of La Farm Bakery, the Cary-based bakery owned by James Beard Award semifinalist Lionel Vatinet. “We hope this will be a great platform to continue to share our passion with more of the community,” says Vatinet.

After studying in France’s artisans’ guild, Les Compagnons du Devoir, Vatinet and his wife, Missy Vatinet, founded La Farm in Cary in 1999. They quickly made a name for themselves using regionally milled flour to make more than 15 different kinds of breads. Baked in huge hearth ovens, their breads range from a signature five-pound sourdough boule to white chocolate mini baguettes, yeast rolls to linzer challah. The bakery often has lines out the door.

It took almost two decades of at-capacity baking for Vatinet to feel ready to expand La Farm, knowing that any new facility would have to accommodate his extensive artisanal process. This year, the time was right. In addition to the new Whole Foods location, La Farm recently opened a large production facility in downtown Cary, and it’s expanding its flagship location. “Our customers want this,” Vatinet says. “We’re still baking in every premise, so everything is still fresh from the oven.”

It’s not common for Whole Foods to dedicate in-store shop space to other retailers, Vatinet says. He views the opportunity as an extension of the education he cares about as much as he cares about bread-baking. “We can reach so many more people now. … By doing this, we can hopefully bring more people to be familiar with what bread can be. It can be nutritious and it can be local and it can be craft. Bread is meant to be shared.”