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Columbus Chef Profiles: Sassafras Bakery’s AJ Perry

This post is written by Shelley Mann, founder of Umami Consulting, a company that provides marketing and public relations support for local, independent restaurants in Columbus and also executive director of Dine Originals Columbus. sassafras atmosphere

It’s become a Friday ritual for the Gallaugher family—when the kids get off school and dad gets off work, the whole family convenes at Sassafras Bakery in Worthington for Milk and Cookies Happy Hour—buy one cookie, get one free glass of Snowville Creamery milk or Brioso coffee. Katherine and Patrick get cookies and milk while mom and dad split a cookie and cup of coffee.

Sassafras proprietress AJ Perry has earned the devotion of many such regulars since opening her bakery and café in the quaint New England-esque neighborhood of Worthington. There, she sells her signature pies and other baked goods plus savory offerings like quiche by the slice and made-from-scratch soups.

Why did you decide to open your shop here in Worthington?
I started doing farmers’ markets and I was doing the Worthington Farmers’ Market for five years, so I had a big customer base here.

sassafras exteriorWhat do you think people love about Sassafras?
I think it’s just a classic American bakery. Everything is made from scratch, using as many local ingredients as possible. We work seasonally as much as we can.

Who are some of the local producers you work with?
Krema Nut Company, Stutzman oats, Pleiades maple syrup, those are our year-round staples.

As far as produce, I work a lot with Wayward Seed Farms. I just picked up strawberries from Rhoads Farms yesterday. Dangling Carrot, I love her produce in the summer. It’s just really whatever is most delicious and easily accessible.

sassafras gust 3What seasonal offerings are you excited about?
We’ve got a spring pea and asparagus galette in cornmeal crust that’s been really popular. It has lots of garlic and little bit of Fontina cheese. It’s just fresh and flavorful.

My ratatouille tart was a really popular thing at the farmers’ market. People ask for it year-round, but I really prefer to produce it when the vegetables are locally available.

Do you get a lot of kids coming in to the shop?
Yes, all day long! Especially right after school. There’s a middle school right up the street, so we get a lot of kids in for happy hour.

sassafras kids 6What’s your must-try recommendation for first-timers?
Our Donut Muffin has kind of taken on a life of its own, and it’s something that’s universally loved by everyone. It was never something I intended to make every day, but as soon as we opened it took off.

And what to wash down those sweets?
Our lemonades are really popular! We squeeze all the lemons in-house and offer different flavors. Right now we have the Blue-barb, that’s blueberry-rhubarb, and those will evolve as the summer goes on. We’re doing our own house-made root beer, too, sweetened with local Honeyrun Farm honey!

Sassafras Bakery
657 High St., Worthington
614-781-9705
sassafrasbakery.com