Is it possible to scroll through your Instagram feed or a food blog without seeing a mere slice of bread with mashed avocado on top conjuring endless heart eye emojis in the comments? Theoretically, yes, but there’s no denying that the avocado toast phenomenon has taken over “foodie” nation.
We asked Zak of Zak the Baker, a relatively new bakery and toast spot in Wynwood, why he thought avocado toast was so trendy these days. Immediately he said, “I have no idea,” and this is coming from a man whose means of living depend on the sale of toast and bread.
Toast as we know it is an extremely basic and familiar item, but “artisanal toast” recently became popular in restaurants in the past year or so. The trend began in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially popularized in the media by Josie Baker, a baker who sells his artisan toast for at least $4. Since the trend began in San Francisco, spending an unprecedented amount of money on toast was interpreted as another way to flaunt ridiculous wealth from the tech industry that was allegedly ruining the Bay Area.
Yet the toast trend caught on, spreading south to L.A, and east to New York, and now, Miami. Zak the Baker probably has the best avocado toast in Miami, and the Wynwood café has only been open since May 2014. “It’s more than a snack, but less of a commitment than a sandwich,” says Zak. At his café in Wynwood, the cheapest toast on the menu is a $4 toast made with butter and local honey. For $6, you can get a savory toast that isn’t quite a meal, but can still satisfy hunger.
“People love avocado toast. To oversimplify it, it’s basically guacamole on bread. There’s nothing sexy about the idea of guacamole on bread.” Says Zak.
How can just mashed avocado be so cool? At least at Zak the Baker, their avocado toast is elevated with pea, fava bean, and some mint to give it complexity. “It’s a familiar food that restaurants are now starting to take to the next level,” Zak explains. “There’s so much room to play with toast. Because basically it’s an empty palette.”
Could toast’s claim to fame be its ode to simplicity in an overcomplicated world? Because even if it’s just avocado on bread with ricotta cheese, taking a bite of Zak the Baker’s avocado toast was a glimpse of creamy, naturally fat-filled heaven.
Before becoming the toast and bread connoisseur that he is now, Zak the Baker (unfortunately) attended Florida State University as a pre-med student. When the pharmacy life became too boring, he travelled the world and learned the art of baking bread. “ I don’t care about money. For me, it’s more important that we’re making the best possible product, and we’re providing something to the community that is important and wholesome,” says Zak. “Miami is a lot of sexiness. Bread is something basic that we need. And I’m interested in selling wholesomeness.”
Zak the Baker boasts a wide selection of both sweet and savory toasts, his personal favorite being the schmaltz herring toast. “I really like to push the schmaltz herring toast because it’s something no one ever orders, but it’s amazing.” We were able to try the schmaltz herring toast, which is a slice of sourdough with horseradish aioli, fatty schmaltz herring, dill, and pickled onion, and just like Zak said, it was amazing. It’s extremely savory and delicious, and it is definitely the most underrated item on the menu.
Although avocado toast’s popularity is off the charts lately, if you really want to push the boundaries of hipster toast, don’t be basic and get the schmaltz herring toast instead. The pink, pickled onions on top will add a nice pop of color when you Instagram your plate on Zak the Baker’s beautiful wooden tables. #Artsy?
words_ yili wu. photos_ carly huffman.
Yili is a freshman from New Jersey majoring in Finance and minoring in Business Law and Interactive Media. When she’s not weighing the pros and cons of ordering pad thai, she is probably trying to memorize all the lyrics of Kanye West’s album, Yeezus, or getting too emotionally attached to Masterchef Junior.