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Ellen King

Owner | Hewn Bread

Ellen King, co-owner and director of baking operations at Hewn Bread (Evanston, IL and Libertyville, IL) got into bread making sort of by chance. After attending culinary school on the West Coast and working on the line at restaurants in Seattle, she moved to Chicago with her young son and missed the great bread she’d eaten in the past, while simultaneously knowing that while she was going to work here in Chicago, with her young son, restaurant hours weren’t appealing.

Enter the Underground Bread Club. While staying home with her son, King filled the air of her Evanston condo with the smell of freshly baked bread made with heritage grains. Word got out in the neighborhood, which prompted her to start the Underground Bread Club. King would bake all morning, strap her son on the back of her bike, and ride around town dropping off loaves to members. It was through the Underground Bread Club that King met her partner, Julie Matthei, and the pair opened Hewn in Evanston in June of 2013.

Recognized in The New York Times, Saveur, Chicago magazine, Forbes, InStyle, and other notable publications, Hewn has also been featured as the Best Bakery in the Midwest by Midwest Living and as one of the 10 Best Bakeries in the United States by Food & Wine. King is a frequent speaker and educator on the benefits and beauty of heritage wheat and small-scale milling. A classically trained chef, King attended the Seattle Culinary Academy where she was awarded the Les Dames d’Escoffier 2003 scholarship, and she holds an MA in American History from the University of Maine, and a BA in History from St. Norbert College.

As Director of Baking Operations and Co-owner, King functions as a jack of all trades around the bakery, pitching in on pastry and bread, making coffee drinks or needed repairs, and the like. 

King’s first cookbook, Heritage Baking, was published by Chronicle Books in October, 2018. It is the first genuine primer for baking with all the artisanal flours now available to the home baker. The book features more than 45 beautiful bread and pastry recipes marked by great flavor, deep color, toothy texture and excellent crumb, and improved digestibility. Reflecting on the book, Mark Bittman writes, “Ellen King is one of my favorite bakers, and Hewn is a gem – there’s nowhere else you can get such good bread made with flour that’s been so thoughtfully sourced and handled.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, King and Matthei expanded their business, opening a second location in Libertyville and purchasing a building in Evanston to expand their Evanston operation.

King’s goal has always been the same: to produce the best-possible product using as many local ingredients as possible and be a place where, when people walk in, they know that everything is authentically made using the best ingredients. Ultimately, King wants customers to know that there aren’t any shortcuts at the bakery and everything sold at Hewn is something she’d be proud to sell them personally.

Ellen and Julie live on Chicago’s North Shore with their children and are proud to be embedded in the community and the region.