As entrepreneur capital of Southern Wisconsin, Whitewater is home to a number of artists, business owners, and freelancers who decided to do things their way. This group of talented people have an abundance of skills to share with the world, and we’re excited to bring their ideas and stories to you!
Our second entrepreneur, Therese McKenzie of Wood Street Bakery, is deeply passionate about baking. Her desire to provide wholesome, nutritious baked goods for her community has not only inspired innovative engineering by her husband, Jim, in their at-home bakery, but has taken her baked goods to six locations in Whitewater and the surrounding areas. We cozied up with McKenzie in her bakery as she prepared a few pie-sized pot pies and learned all there is to know about the bakery many know and love.
Discover Whitewater: What’s the history of Wood Street Bakery?
McKenzie: We wanted to have a business that combines my passion for baking with Jim’s passion for problem solving. We also wanted to use his gift in engineering to build things from scratch so I can bake things from scratch. With Ma & Pa bakeries going out of business everywhere, because it’s labor intensive and people want to buy baked goods with their other groceries at the grocery store, we decided to make a semi-automated home-based bakery. We use some automated processes because we want to make things in higher volumes. We started in 2016.
DW: What do you bake?
McKenzie: Granola, artisan breads, European tarts, scones, muffins, marzipan braids, and specialty cookies.
DW: What’s the most challenging baking project you’ve ever had?
McKenzie: Trying to figure out the sourdough is challenging. I remember some big flops in there.
DW: Is there a recipe you’ve improved over the years that customers have really responded well to?
McKenzie: Again, probably the sourdough. I’ve worked the most on this to improve it. We do that with a lot of products, but this has had the most iterations.
“We’re community oriented. We’re intentional. Wholesome comes to mind because we look at the whole picture.” -Therese McKenzie, Owner and Baker of Wood Street Bakery
DW: On a similar note, what’s the most loved baked good you sell?
McKenzie: Seems like people are really into the scones lately. I have a customer who loves our savory scones. Their whole family eats them for breakfast every day.
DW: How would you describe your business?
McKenzie: That’s a good question…good thing for me to think about. To really sell and bake for our community and interact with the community, that’s a big part of the heart of our bakery. We’re community oriented. We’re intentional. Wholesome comes to mind because we look at the whole picture: meet the needs of the community, not be too expensive, offer nutritious goods. That distinguishes us from other bakers.
DW: How would you describe yourself?
McKenzie: Mmmm…analytical. I like to analyze projects, people, and my own feelings even. Personalities. Families. *laughs*
DW: What do you love baking the most?
McKenzie: I really like making the tarts. They’re beautiful. They’re colorful. I’m a big colorful food person.
DW: What are you inspired by most?
McKenzie: Previous to starting our business, we lived in Germany for four years. While there, we were very inspired by their baked goods and bakeries. Our tarts and multigrain breads are inspired by what we tried while living there.
DW: Any advice for bakers just starting out?
McKenzie: Oh boy… *laughs* …don’t spread yourself too thin.
DW: What’s your favorite thing about Whitewater?
McKenzie: I love the mixture of having the university and industry. It’s an interesting mix. I like that the University helps us reach into a more global perspective.
“We try our best to be clean, wholesome, and nutritious.” -Therese McKenzie, Owner and Baker of Wood Street Bakery
DW: Where do you sell?
McKenzie: Whitewater City Market on Saturday mornings at the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library during the winter months and Tuesday evenings spring through fall outside the Whitewater Historical Society old train depot, Jones Market (granola and sourdough on weekends) in Fort Atkinson, Fort Farmer’s Market on occasion, The Book Teller, Partners’ Gift Shop at Fort Health Care Hospital, and 2nd Time Around Resale Shoppe in Milton.
DW: What can people expect from your goods?
McKenzie: We try our best to be clean, wholesome, and nutritious. I want people to know we’re safe and trustworthy, to trust what we’re doing with our products- no additives, chemicals, or artificial colors.
DW: What’s your greatest dream regarding your business?
McKenzie: We’d like to see the business grow enough that it could support our household.
DW: Anything else you wish to share about your work or this industry?
McKenzie: Hmmm…well, something lately that God is putting on my heart with our bakery is that I really want to focus on being generous with what we have.