A new bakery, Enso Kitchen recently opened its doors in Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC). Enso Kitchen serves a variety of breads, sandwiches and pastries, all handmade.
The owner of Enso Kitchen, Rubing Yen, is married to St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Ellen Kohl. Yen says having a wife who is a faculty member at SMCM has helped spread the word around campus. “I kind of intentionally have not really advertised much […], because I wanted to have some time for my staff to get acquainted with our routines and really work through any problems that arose,” Yen stated.
“It’s been great, definitely picking up faster than I expected,” Yen said of the first few weeks they’ve been open. Yen currently employs eight students from SMCM on his staff. “The students I have working for me are the best. Even with no kitchen experience, no baking experience, no cooking experience, I think the students I have working here are better than 90% of the people I’ve worked in commercial kitchens with,” Yen said of his staff.
Yen says the students also bring energy to the kitchen, and “they’re super willing to learn too […], I think only one person had any previous bread or baking experience but everyone has been super interested in it and super willing to learn and try and fail and make adjustments.”
Yen had been thinking of opening a bakery for several years and when he and his family moved here, he found this location at HSMC. “I told them the vision and they really worked super hard to make this whole space happen, they did almost all of the work in here and it’s incredible,” Yen said, “the folks at Historic and at the College have been amazingly supportive and welcoming.”
Before Enso Kitchen, Yen worked in restaurants and in the food industry off and on since he was in college. He also worked an environmental educator and taught English in Taiwan. Most recently, Yen was an elementary school teacher in Athens, Georgia for seven years before moving to Southern Maryland.
Yen’s love for baking is “a fairly recent interest” after getting serious about it four or five years ago. He began baking naturally levain sourdough every day for two years, “changing one little thing here and there to see how it would affect the outcome, it was a lot of baking by feel, I did very little measuring.”
His love of sourdough bread grew into “appreciation for other types of baking, other types of bread, and other types of techniques.”
Yen also mentioned there is a surprisingly sizable local population that visits Enso Kitchen, “I think the word has spread among some of the neighborhoods here and there and I’m starting to see a lot of repeat customers.”
Enso Kitchen is open Monday through Friday from roughly 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (or when the baked goods sell out), with lunch hours from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. It is located in HSMC by Farthing’s Ordinary.