FreshDirect Sourced: Brooklyn Mills Bakery

With over five decades of baking experience, Brooklyn Mills Bakery brings delicious, hand-crafted European-style bread to your kitchen table. Based locally in Red Hook, the bakery is known for stone milling, which is the oldest, slowest, and best method of grinding whole grains that produces seriously fresh loaves.

Owner and self-proclaimed “breaducator,” Aristos Tzannos, better known as “Rusty,” emigrated from his native Greece decades ago. He takes great pride in his heritage, mainly because it’s what inspired him to bring his method of bread baking to New York City. “I was searching for good bread rolls to use for my kids’ sandwiches and was shocked that I could only find pre-packaged, manufactured, white, fluffy loaves that stayed on the shelves for months without going bad,” he says.

Brooklyn Mills owner Aristos “Rusty” Tzannos

While most Americans are accustomed to this type of bread, Rusty had seen nothing like it during his years in Greece. The bread he enjoyed was handmade, often by his grandmother or mother, through a process of stone milling, which uses two flat circular stones stacked on top of one another to ground grain in a continuous rotation until it’s smooth and fine. This is the same process that’s been used for millenia by cultures across the globe. 

“I decided to open up my bake shop—to make real bread the old-fashioned way, just like my grandmother used to do in Greece.” His method involves a custom-made slow rotation stone mill, a process that allows the highest nutrient content of the grain, maintaining the germ, bran, and endosperm. “This is the only way for the vitamins from the valuable sprout, trace elements, and minerals underneath the bran layer to be used for nutritional purposes.” The germ that’s retained during the stone milling process gives the bread its “nutty,” genuine flavor and aroma, which blankets the Brooklyn Mills bakery.

Years ago, when our bakery director, Susan, heard about the European-style bread-making process going on at Brooklyn Mills, she knew that FreshDirect had to share Rusty’s bread with our customers. Ever since, the bakery has been one of our most beloved partners, both among the FreshDirect team as well as our customers:

“I love that Rusty cares more about the ingredients and product quality than he does about making money. His mission in life is to share fantastic well-made bread to all our customers. Whether you are eating his brioche, focaccia rolls, or whole grain breads, one bite and you’ll taste the difference.”

—Susan, Bakery Director

And Rusty truly does care about every step of the bread-making process and every ingredient that goes into it. He uses locally-sourced grains, organic eggs, and European-style butter from Vermont Creamery. His potato rolls even contain real, hand-mashed potatoes (spoiler: most potato breads don’t contain potato, just potato flour, which is far less rich when it comes to taste and texture).

Rusty is such a fanatic about quality that he won’t sell to most grocery retailers because they can’t guarantee that they’ll get his products to customers while they’re still fresh—between the complex supply chains and the shelves where loaves will often sit for days on end, traditional grocery stores are simply not built to move products within their optimal window of freshness. FreshDirect, on the other hand, is uniquely set up to deliver his bread to order. It goes directly from the Brooklyn Mills bakery to our facilities and then out to you, often in the course of mere hours. At FreshDirect, we feel lucky to be able to share these incredible goods, knowing that you won’t find products of this caliber at most other markets. 

Visiting the Brooklyn Mills headquarters is like stepping into a bread-lover’s heaven, with that fresh-baked aroma greeting you before you even step through the door. And while we can’t take you there directly, you can have a look inside with this video from our recent visit, when Rusty sat down to talk with us, making everyone feel like family, as he always does. 

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More from the FreshDirect Sourced series:

Brooklyn Delhi
Hepworth Farms
Great Gun Oysters
Partners Coffee
White Moustache