Can a loaf of bread be a catalyst for a great conversation?
We think so. We’ve been making craft breads and pastries since we pulled our first baguette from our stone oven in late 1993. By focusing on the 4C’s – our companions, our customers, our community and our company – we have built a small bakery with strong reputation for doing things right.
At Companion, we’re in the business of baking bread. But we’re also in the business of supporting small growers and producers, encouraging sustainability, pushing culinary limits, even fostering friendships. To us, the creative process and the many people it touches along the way are as important as the loaf itself.
We place great care in our products and service. We source the best ingredients to prepare unique offerings for our customers. We enjoy excellent and long-standing relationships with our wholesale and retail customers. We offer a gathering place for customers to pop in or linger, to sit quietly or share in conversations and a meal. We treasure our St. Louis roots and are a vital member of the neighborhoods and communities we serve. The collective “we” of Companion is what makes it all possible.
Meet our team:
While starting a bakery may seem a unique choice for a Stanford University graduate, Josh Allen has been working in the food service industry for the majority of his life. Allen grew up in Clayton, Missouri, where his parents served as the third generation owners of Allen Foods – a broad-line food distribution company that services regional hotels, restaurants, educational institutions and long-term care facilities. From the early age of eight, he began helping out with the family business, making deliveries, learning the tricks of the trade and more importantly developing a passion for food.
With no formal training in bread making and solely relying on a stone French bakers’ oven, Allen started Companion Baking in St. Louis in 1993 at the age of 24. His vision was clear and concise: create wholesome and delicious European breads with simple ingredients. Starting with just six breads in its product line, Companion quickly made a name for itself, receiving orders from various local restaurants and specialty stores.
Within two years, St. Louis’ largest grocery chains – Schnucks and Dierbergs – began offering Companion’s baked goods on their shelves, and within four years Modern Baking Magazine recognized Companion Baking, now simply called Companion, with its Industry Leadership Award. In 2007, USA Today named Companion one of the “Top 10 Artisan Bakeries” in the country. Today, Companion’s bread is served in more than 100 local restaurants, 30 Schnucks and Dierbergs, and the company has cafes in Clayton and Ladue.
Amidst Companion’s growth as one of St. Louis’ signature micro-producers, Allen is still motivated by the simpler things in life, specifically, what he calls – “the quest for the perfect loaf of bread.” His passion to “create something new everyday” and invest the necessary time to perfect each product is what drives Allen and continues to ensure the success of Companion. He is able to do this because of the support of his wonderful wife Melissa and their four bakers-to-be.
Allen lives with his family in Clayton. In his free time, he enjoys yoga and cycling, and travels several times a year to San Francisco, where he has small ownership interest in a grocery store. He is an active participant in the Bread Bakers Guild of America, serving on the board from 1998-2004. He is also an advisory board member of the Forest Park Community College Culinary Arts Program.
Jodi Allen Gordon
Jodi, Josh’s sister, graduated from Webster University. Before joining Companion, Jodi established herself in the local food industry working 12 years in wholesale food distribution with her family’s business, Allen Foods. Since 2001, she has been the managing owner of Companion’s Clayton location, helping to cultivate the retail location into a favorite neighborhood café gathering place. She has brought to Companion her experience in sales and sales management. As the brother-sister duo expands their business, Jodi will further capitalize on her management experience in evolving the menu for Companion’s two café gathering places.
As they say, teamwork means less “me” and more “we”. We are proud of the fact that many of our own Companions have been a part of our team for at least five years. Meet these special team members:
We are always looking for dedicated new employees to join our team. Click here for more information.