On a rainy morning in November 1993, with a line of Philadelphians waiting to try their just-baked breads, Wendy Smith Born and James Barrett opened Metropolitan Bakery. 

The future business partners first met at Philadelphia's pioneering farm-to-table restaurant White Dog Café, where Wendy was managing partner and James the pastry chef. Bonding over a mutual love of food and travel, they lamented how hard it was to find great breads and pastries like those they enjoyed in Europe. So the two friends created Metropolitan Bakery. 

Twenty five years later, Metropolitan Bakery has become a Philadelphia institution, with four retail outlets, a café, and a busy online business. Locally, its breads are served in many of the city's finest restaurants—including Barbuzzo, Farmicia, Vernick Food & Drink, Friday Saturday Sunday, Lacroix at the Rittenhouse and Jose Garces’ Volver.

Behind the scenes, Metropolitan sources its ingredients from local farmers and other small artisan producers. Metropolitan is also very active in initiatives that directly affect the communities it serves and participates in several training programs providing job skills for low income students, recent parolees and formerly homeless adults. This commitment to community—as well as a unrelenting devotion to quality—is what has made Metropolitan Bakery such a sweet success.

 

James Barrett

James Barrett's love of baking began in the kitchen of his Italian grandmother, who impressed upon him the importance of natural ingredients, traditional methods and, above all, patience. These were principles James would encounter again during his studies at the Culinary Institute of America and in Europe at the Ecole Francaise de Boulangerie d’Aurillac.

Today, more than 25 years later, James rises every morning before dawn to begin work in Metropolitan's 10,000-square-foot bakery facility in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. There, on an average day, he and his team turn out by hand as many as 2,000 individual breads, rolls, cupcakes, brownies, biscotti, muffins, cannelle, fruit tarts and cookies, as well as the bakery's award-winning granolas, flavored popcorns and dog treats!

James is a regular guest chef on Comcast's syndicated series The Chef's Kitchen and has appeared on the Food Network and on Christina Cooks (on PBS WHYY-TV). He also teaches baking at the Philadelphia Restaurant School, Cook and the Reading Terminal Market Kitchen, among other places.

Wendy Smith Born

A native New Yorker, Wendy has presided over Metropolitan Bakery’s growth into a nationally respected brand and retail, wholesale and online business employing hundreds of people. Prior to co-founding Metropolitan, Wendy served as director of community outreach at Share Our Strength, a D.C.-based hunger relief organization, and helped open Philadelphia's White Dog Café, a culinary vanguard of the farm-to-table movement. 

From these early professional experiences came her career-long interest in finding the sweet spot between business success and social responsibility. Wendy serves on the boards of several local civic associations and charitable organizations, and was one of the original board members of the Reading Terminal Farmer's Market Trust, which delivers fresh locally grown produce to low income areas.

A mother of three, Wendy has long been a supporter of other working mothers and women in business. In 2010, she earned a Master's Degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania and was a recipient of Philadelphia Magazine's Trailblazer Award in 2012.