The Sweetest Thing: Napa’s Monday

Monday Bakery has a philosophy that informs every croissant, oat bar, and coffee cake they create: making Monday a better day. And, after rescuing that day, owner and pastry chef Sally Latimer is determined to sweeten the rest of the week, too. It’s less than a year old, but Monday Bakery feels like a community hub in downtown Napa. Behind the mint green door is an airy space decorated with bright, cheerful posters like “Bake someone happy.” On a recent Sunday morning, families ate breakfast sandwiches while others typed on laptops between bites of Nutella banana bread.

“I think one of the biggest compliments I get from people when they taste something it reminds them of something their grand- mother or aunt used to make when they were a kid,” Sally says.

monday bakery

Some young chefs might have been intimidated to open their first venture in the Napa Valley, home to acclaimed chefs like Cindy Pawlcyn, Christopher Kostow, and Thomas Keller. But Latimer, whose resume includes a stint at Ad Hoc, didn’t hesitate. “I fell in love with the Napa Valley, and it felt like the natural place to manifest my dream,” she says.

Latimer learned to love cooking and French cuisine from her Grandma Bella in Rhode Island. She considers Julia Child a hero; her quip “a party without cake is just a meeting” is framed by the door. Latimer was inspired by monday bakery watching Child’s cooking show and reading her books. “She brought the complexity of French cooking down to where people could relate to it and feel like they could do it themselves,” Latimer says. Latimer studied music at Gonzaga University and started her culinary career in Seattle. After assisting Autumn Martin in the beginning of her business, Hot Cakes Confections, Latimer was inspired to open her own. She studied pastry at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and then introduced her baked goods at the Napa Farmers Market. Selling her Hobbs bacon- cheddar quiche and nectarine basil cream puffs at the market offered her the opportunity to build a clientele and test recipes. “If I had a new idea, I would carry it for

a couple of weeks and then take it away and see how many people missed it,” she laughs. She also met farmers that are now her purveyors. Her recipes feature Rodriguez Farm strawberries and blackberries, Far West Funghi mushrooms, and Big Ranch Farm butternut squash. Friendships led to collaborations like a Miminashi soft cream featuring her s’mores cookies, and red velvet cupcakes laced with Clif Family winery’s The Climber Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. “Sally is just a great ambassador for local farms of the Napa Valley,” says Meg Barkley, Director of Experiences for Clif Family. “She embraces the farm-to-table  ethos,  and  she’s  a very warm and open collaborator.”

Latimer feels lucky to have so much support from her new husband, Matt, kitchen manager Lindsey De Vaul, and the rest of her hardworking team. “Being a young woman business owner, I’m super grateful for the support I’ve gotten from the community,” says Latimer.

“It’s a huge challenge, but also to be so well-received, I’m beyond thankful.”


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