After a year of popping up at farmers markets and coffee shops, Colossus Bread + Pastry has officially opened in San Pedro, California. Head baker and owner Kristin Colazas Rodriguez previously worked in fine dining restaurants and commercial bakeries in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, before pursuing her dream of opening a bakery and café near her hometown of Long Beach. Colossus Bread specializes in artisanal bread made the old-fashioned way – with local grain milled in-house. Colossus offers a large selection of sweet and savory croissant-based pastries that highlight the seasonal and local offerings of Southern California – and you can also get hand-crafted coffee here!
A Passion for Pastry
As you have probably guessed by now, I love pastries. They are some of the first things that Anders and I look for when we visit a new city. I love pastries so much, in fact, that for a brief stint I had a side job working as a pastry chef. My passion for pastry really took off when I took a trip to San Francisco and had brunch at Petit Crenn, the casual spot from Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn. I had never eaten such exceptional pastries – buttery, flaky works of art that nested chocolate, cream, and seasonal fruits. One bite and I decided I wanted to be a pastry chef. With absolutely no experience in the kitchen, I asked the restaurant if I could be a stagiaire (an unpaid intern). To my surprise, they said yes.
When Kaitlin Met Kristin
During my one-week internship at Petit Crenn, I gained an immense amount of knowledge about pastry, huge respect for chefs and the all-consuming lifestyle of working in a kitchen, and a new friend, pastry chef Kristin Colazas Rodriguez. We bonded when we realized we were both from Long Beach, California (small world!). I still remember my first slice of her sourdough bread, a hasty snack scarfed down between jobs in the kitchen, hot from the oven and melting in my mouth, topped with a generous amount of butter.
Half a year later, Kristin moved back to Long Beach with the dream of giving back to her community and opening her own bakery. I was her first employee. Kristin taught me about bread and pastry as we slaved away in the wee hours of the morning. I learned to make her insanely addictive chocolate chip cookies, her perfectly moist pumpkin bread, and her buttery brioche. Eventually, we graduated to the art of croissant lamination (all done by hand with only a rolling pin!) and sourdough bread fermentation. Of course, some taste testing was required as part of the job.
In addition to kitchen skills, Kristin also taught me the right way to run a business. She shows respect for her ingredients, kindness to employees and customers, and an extreme amount of dedication to her craft. Kristin consistently pulled all-nighters, working and saving to build the bakery of her dreams.
Colossus Bread + Pastry Opens in San Pedro
Finally, after a year of searching for the perfect location and selling her wares at farmers markets and coffee shops, she opened Colossus Bread + Pastry just outside of Long Beach, in San Pedro. Kristin’s husband Nicholas Rodriguez, her partner in business and life, joined the team to manage the coffee program. Nick has over ten years of experience working in coffee and he handles everything from the selection of the coffee (they serve Heart Coffee Roasters) to training the baristas. Colossus serves drip coffee as well as espresso-based beverages; their specialty drink is a latte made with a house-made thyme caramel syrup.
Colossus Bread + Pastry offers a large selection of pastries that showcase ingredients from the Southern California farmers they partner with.
– Our pastries are all pretty classic in technique, Kristin describes.
– They’re croissants and variations of croissants, but I like to use the croissant as a vehicle for different layers of texture and flavor.
The pastries rotate based on what’s in season – Kristin uses fresh fruit from the market as well as vegetables and herbs grown in their garden. Signature pastries include their butter croissant, Kouign-Amman, pain au chocolat, almond croissant, cinnamon bun, seasonal fruit galette, chocolate chip cookie, and tebirkes, the Danish poppyseed roll. There are also quite a few savory pastries, such as their ham and cheese croissant and their zucchini flower, tomato, and cheese Danish.
Good Bread is Good for You
Colossus specializes in natural, artisan bread.
– I like to say it’s made the old-fashioned way. We don’t add anything to it; we use a lot of really good, local grain from Tehachapi, which is just a few hours away. And we mill that flour fresh in-house. We naturally ferment the flour with water, salt, and a little bit of sourdough starter. We ferment it overnight, so it gets a nice long ferment, Kristin says, describing their bread-making philosophy.
They have a few different kinds of sourdough loaves on offer – 100% whole grain wheat, country levain (30% whole wheat), a few variations of the country levain (one with olive and cumin and one with toasted sesame), and a seeded Danish rye (100% whole grain rye). Colossus Bread has a crispy, crunchy crust with a deliciously soft, chewy center. And, thanks to the nutritional value from the whole grains, it’s not just good bread, it’s good for you.
Colossus is open. Bready, set, go!
What are your favorite pastries in Los Angeles? Let us know in a comment below.
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Anders Husa & Kaitlin Orr
Kaitlin used to work with Kristin, but has no affiliation to the new bakery. We paid for our own pastries.