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While many of his colleagues were considering retirement, Mal Krinn, MD, was studying and preparing for a transition to his new role as artisan breadmaker at his son's restaurant.
Dr. Krinn grew up in Chicago, left after medical school, and most recently, practiced ophthalmology in Washington, DC, until his hobby became his calling. He baked bread for most of the 30 years he practiced medicine.
He surmises that missing the "flavors of home" and the enjoyment he found in working with his hands in the kitchen led to his love of breadmaking.
It was years later, as his son was poised to return to Washington, DC-after a decade of studying under great chefs in France and New York City-when Dr. Krinn began preparations to make his hobby his next job. He and his son envisioned a partnership in a small restaurant.
One of the first steps Dr. Krinn took was to join a group of doctors. He had practiced ophthalmology on his own for many years, but wanted to transition his patients seamlessly. Dr. Krinn knew that being part of a team of doctors would make it easier.
Dr. Krinn also began an apprenticeship of sorts. While still seeing his ophthalmic patients, Dr. Krinn found time to work in a Washington DC, bakery where he was able to hone his craft and learn some of the commercial aspects of baking. He was introduced to equipment that made bigger quantities of his original recipes.
"I just made a lot more," Dr. Krinn said. He baked specialty breads, Danish and puff pastries, and his favorite French breads.
Dr. Krinn also studied breadmaking in Milan.
"We had dear friends there," he said. "We would go to bakeries and observe. I would try to replicate what I saw to continue the experiment."
He also studied in New York City at Daniel, a high-end restaurant with an in-house bakery.
"I saw how to organize restaurant-baking operations and got ideas for the physical plans for the restaurant," he said.
Closer to home, he recalled many years ago watching his wife's grandmother make Challah, a Jewish egg bread.
"She didn't have a recipe, so I measured as she went along [to] write the recipe," Dr. Krinn said. "I watched her knead the dough gently, contrary to common kneading practice. I understood then that there are different approaches to breadmaking."
Taking the leap
"My son trained for about 10 years," Dr. Krinn said. "I was getting ready to work with him-there was a lot of anticipation. I never thought it would be like this, though!"