The Story

My name is Ali Rohrbacher and I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. When I turned 18 I moved to the Pacific Northwest to attend The Evergreen State College, where I studied English Literature and Fine Art with no career-trajectory whatsoever. After graduating in 2012, and then almost immediately getting fired from my 1st real post-college job, I decided to move back to my hometown and figure out what to do with my life. While I was in school I had consistent anxiety about my lack of direction towards a potential career path, because I thought that I should have one, and I worried why I didn’t. After I moved back to Memphis I picked up some part-time work at various office jobs, though none were/are interesting enough to be described here. I had never imagined I could be comfortable or happy without a career path. I assumed I would find fulfillment when I figured out what I was supposed to do for a “living” as if it would just hit me one day, like a bus.

When I eventually got to a place of relative financial stability (i.e. was paying my bills, was no longer crashing on a friend-of-a-friend’s couch, and could afford to feed myself on a consistent basis) I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I was desperate to lose some senior-thesis-white-wine-and-white-cheddar-popcorn-weight, and to be healthier in general. I started baking everything I could from scratch, cooking a mainly plant based diet, and reading and learning everything I could about baking and different methods of food preservation. My attempt to be healthier turned into a major new hobby, one I was living vicariously through. I found more satisfaction and contentment trying a new canning recipe for pickled “dilly” beans, or trying to make my own bread for the first time, than I had ever derived from my academic pursuits. I find a very real sense of fulfillment in the cycle of meal planning, shopping for the right ingredients, bringing it all home, and making good food happen.

Sometime in June, 2016, an old friend of mine Simon Hua, contacted me via Instagram (on a post I made of the mis en place bowls of spices for soon-to-be homemade Chinese 5 spice) and asked if I had a blog. I told him “No, but…” and we met up for a drink and talked about our coincidentally compatible hobbies. I have been becoming increasingly obsessed with baking sourdough bread over the last year or two, and I had been reading a few top notch blogs about baking. There are many food and baking related blogs that are absolutely stunning, but for ever high quality blog there seem to be a thousand absolutely terrible ones. I had no intention to start my own “blog” as an independent venture, simply because I know nothing about photography, photo editing, or computers for that matter. Simon had studied computer science and 2D design at CBU here in Memphis, so I was curious. We had originally met in AP Art in high school, so I already knew he was mega-talented as an artist before I checked out his photography website. Needless to say, once we met and discussed our intentions we decided to make this blog thing happen.

Since then I have started working as a volunteer pastry chef at The Caritas Village in the Binghampton neighborhood. Caritas Village is a non-profit that functions as a community center, cafe restaurant, and art gallery. Caritas is also host to resident artists, a weekly free medical clinic, after school programming for kids,  and provides about 20+ free meals a day to people in the community through a pay-it-forward program. In a cooperative agreement with them I have been granted access to their commercial kitchen space to bake for my own small local business,  Hustle & Dough Baking Co., in exchange for my volunteer time. I have been taking orders and baking pies and sourdough breads for friends and customers via my Facebook business page.  I have also been providing a local business, City & State (in the  Broad Avenue Arts District), with seasonal pies on a weekly basis that they are selling by the slice with their absolutely fantastic coffee.

I am still working my two part-time contract-labor office jobs to pay my bills. I take every opportunity I can to read and practice and learn as much as possible about baking, most specifically sourdough bread baking. I am hoping to get a small weekly bread subscription going that is open to the public for 2017. With my flexible schedule as it is I can make every effort to prioritize my baking practice for the time being. I am working on building my commercial kitchen-resume-experience in the hopes to some day be able to get a full time baking gig going, and eventually travel or move to do a stage or apprenticeship at a serious sourdough bakery.

For the first time in my life I can honestly say I know exactly what I want to do.  

So it goes. 

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If you are interested in contacting me for any reason please send emails to:

hustleanddough@gmail.com