Berkshire Biscotti: Small-batch specialty worth dunking
Baker Edward Ard makes biscotti recipes, business his own
Edward Ard discovered his passion for baking on an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Hired as a cook in the 1992, "I saw all those pastries in a display case and was like, 'Wow, people really get paid to work on this kind of stuff?' "
Ard connected with the head baker, who suggested he come in for a 2 a.m. shift. "The chefs were always stressed out and chain smoking. The night bakers were always chill and relaxed," he said. "They'd stroll in at night with a list. When the chefs came in at 6 a.m., all the fresh pastries were out. They got to work at their own pace."
It was the beginning of a career for then 20-year-old Ard, who now owns Berkshire Biscotti on Lombard Street in Pittsfield. As the only employee, he still starts his day early — not 2 a.m., but a more manageable 6 a.m. — so he can finish all the baking, deliveries and paperwork that come with running a business. On a typical baking day, Ard said he makes about 300 biscotti cookies.
Ard, who grew up traveling between California and Louisiana, came to the Berkshires in 1994, shortly after working in the Gulf. It was here that he fully embraced baking, learning the ins and outs of the business by working with Martha Tawczynski at Taft Farms in Great Barrington and with Richard Bourdon at Berkshire Mountain Bakery.
It's those connections that helped Ard refine his craft, gain experience and establish a network in the Berkshires. At Taft Farms, he helped add an official baking section to the pantry kitchen. "I'm very grateful to Martha and her husband, Dan [Tawczynski], for giving me the freedom to bake whatever I wanted there," Ard said.
At Berkshire Mountain Bakery, "I worked my way up to being one of the lead bakers there and eventually took over the position of accounts manager," Ard said. "I will forever be in debt to Richard [Bourdon] for allowing me the opportunity to see what it would be like to run my own bakery — from calculating recipes to organizing baking schedules and managing wholesale accounts, I did it all there."
Then, in 2007, Ard discovered David's Biscotti was for sale. Impressed with the taste and variety of flavors, he took the opportunity, purchasing the business with his good friend, Byron Rosales. In 2016, he bought Rosales' share of the partnership and renamed the company Berkshire Biscotti.
"It's an absolute honor to have `Berkshire' in my business name, as I immediately fell in love with this area, the lifestyle and the people the day I moved here in 1993," he said.
Ard sells 24-piece sampler boxes for $29.95 and biscotti by the dozen for $10.95. The twice-baked Italian baked goods, which are cherished companions to coffee or tea for dunking, come in eight flavors: classic almond, double chocolate espresso, coconut macadamia, mocha hazelnut, lemon cranberry pistachio, chocolate raspberry almond, lemon ginger and Mexican dark chocolate. Other specialty flavors, such as gingerbread or butter rum almond, are available in batch quantities.
"The most popular flavor is the classic almond, which is the most traditional biscotti and is closely followed by the lemon cranberry pistachio and the double chocolate espresso," Ard said.
The business came connected to a distributor, Crescent Creamery, which helps move Ard's biscotti far and wide, from Berkshire County to neighboring states and the Pioneer Valley. You can even find Berkshire Biscotti in Boston.
Now, it's business as usual — but it doesn't really feel like work. "When I leave home each morning, I don't say I'm going to work, I say I'm going to the bakery. Always have," he said.
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