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Posted on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Longtime Zingerman's baker leaving company for new venture

By Lizzy Alfs

Longtime Zingerman’s baker Shelby Kibler is ready to take his career to the next level by opening his own bakery in Grand Rapids.

Kibler, one of the leaders of Zingerman’s BAKE!, plans to open Field & Fire artisan bakery in Grand Rapids’ new Downtown Market this summer.


Shelby Kibler plans to open Field & Fire bakery in Grand Rapids this year.

Courtesy photo

“I’ve never been more excited about doing anything,” Kibler said. “I love to bake. Food is my world and it’s an opportunity I’ve talked about with my wife for years, but didn’t see it materializing so fast.”

Kibler started as a bread baker with Zingerman’s Bakehouse in 1997, eventually working his way to manager. After spending several years working in restaurants in California, he moved back to Michigan and became one of the managers, or principals, at Zingerman’s BAKE! — the company’s hands-on teaching bakery at 3711 Plaza Drive.

Although Kibler feels indebted to Zingerman’s for helping him blossom as a baker, he said he’s ready for his next challenge.

“I’ve been growing the BAKE! school every year and applying my passion to that part of the bakery and I find it thoroughly satisfying work,” he said. “In the end, I wanted to own my own bakery.”

Field & Fire will be a 1,500-square-foot artisan bakery serving mostly savory breads, croissants and wood-fired pizzas. The 138,000-square-foot Downtown Market in Grand Rapids is being developed as a destination for fresh produce, artisan food, local farms and entertainment. (Read more about the market)

“I’ll be located next to all these other really cool small businesses,” Kibler said.

Kibler plans to stay at Zingerman’s until the end of May, and in the meantime, he’s helping the company fill his position.

Zingerman’s Bakehouse managing partner Amy Emberling said Kibler’s job — manager/principal of BAKE! — was posted on Zingerman’s career page several weeks ago and final interviews are scheduled for May.

“(Kibler) has done really wonderful things in his role,” she said.

“We expect we’ll have someone (fill the position) in the beginning of June. It’s a really nice position,” she added.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

I have taken many classes at BAKE! and Shelby is an EXCELLENT teacher. He is going to be sorely missed by his students, but what a great adventure for him. Good Luck!

Doug Coombe

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of Shelby's pizza making classes and it was fantastic. I look forward to checking out his bakery in Grand Rapids!


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

Will any local A2 shops be selling Field & Fire goods? Congrats and good luck Shelby!

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

This entrepreneurship is fantastic news for everyone - for Zingerman's for cultivating talent, for people in Grand Rapids, and for anyone who likes bread. Great bread is very, very difficult to find. This should help raise the bar.


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Good - the pies and other baked goods are just not that good - Having lived in Portland Oregon, I had the chance to compare many kinds of baked goods and Zingerman's is resting on reputation, not flavor or quality! Really! I know, I just committed a crime by not supporting Ann Arbors beloved Zingerman's but it's way over priced and very average food. True that they are great supporters of many nonprofits and good community members but the food...come on now


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

I agree...their bread is too hard on the outside and has no flavor!! My favorite is AVALON BREAD from Detroit! Their bread is WAY better!!!


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 11:01 p.m.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OVERPRICED. If people are willing to pay for it, that is what the market would will allow. If it were "over priced" people would not buy it and then they would not sell it.


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

RTFA. Shelby is the principal of the baking school, not the bakery itself.


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

For example, Zingerman's uses Libby's canned pumpkin for their $19.99 pumpkin pie!

Freight Train

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

@andralisa. I too lived in Portland (15 years) and I can honestly say the bread from Zingerman's is better than any bread I ever had in Portland. A friend, recently visiting from PDX, made the same statement. I think there are many things from Zingerman's that seem over-hyped, but the bread is the single best thing they do. IMHO, of course!


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

If you know so much better, start a bakery and outcompete them. (I'm still laughing about the idea that having lived in Portland makes one an expert on baking.)

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

How about something specific, rather than generic bashing? You mention Zingerman's quality is not there. What, specifically? Did you ever express your concerns to the staff?


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Wow! 138K sq.ft. Downtown Market in GR. That's what I wished would have happened at the former Ann Arbor News building on Huron St. It would have been a big plus for downtown A2. Good luck, Shelby. See you in Grand Rapids.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Here's a link to more info on the market opening in GR:

Larry Baird

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

I can't wait to check out the "Downtown Market" in GR when it opens. Hopefully it will incorporate some of the best elements of Kerrytown and Eastern Market. Good luck Mr. Kibler!

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Yes - the Downtown Market sounds amazing. It reminds me of Kerrytown Shops but with more businesses (24) and I think the tenants have a smaller footprint. It really supports this local food movement.

Linda Peck

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

It makes sense that talent spreads to other places. Grand Rapids will love these beautiful breads as much as Ann Arbor. Congratulations and best wishes to the entrepreneur, Shelby Kibler!

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

I wonder how many news stories have been done about (for) Zingerman's or for that matter how many times has Zingerman's been mentioned by since started.

Chaz H

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 11:16 p.m.

Homeland, Perhaps you should start your own news blog if you do not like this one. could write an article everyday about Zingerman's and nobody will force you to read it.


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

Ann owns Zingermans does it not?

Dirty Mouth

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

I believe there is quota in place,

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

I wonder how many people whine when Zingerman's impact on the community is covered in a news story? I wonder how many people make it a priority to visit Zingerman's as a "must" destination whenever they visit A2?

Jack Gladney

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

I looked it up. Answer: 147. Why do you wonder and what do I win?

Paula Gardner

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Why do you wonder? it's a lot, in part for the reason Lizzy mentioned below. Are you saying it's too many?


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Oh, geez. What is with you people. Like it or not, Zingerman's has a large presence in the community and for the most part, it's a damn good presence. Don't click on the story if you don't want to read it. How freaking hard is that? Good luck to Shelby, he's a great guy and this is good news.

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Zingerman's is a local business that employs hundreds of people. Shelby leaving the company after 11 years and opening his own bakery is a great step for him, and I thought many of my readers would like to hear about it. You can certainly email me with story ideas (


Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

At least once a week x however many years. Zing PR! sounds like another new venture they should start! lolz