In the spring of 1982, after a grueling trip up the Alaska Highway, the Kelly green Sourdough Express Van rolled into Homer with a story to tell. Back then, the roads were unpaved and spring weather conditions brought blizzards and obstacles. The 1972 bread-wagon-on-wheels took four weeks to make the journey, peddling bread up the Highway to make enough money to set up shop in beautiful Homer, Alaska. The van pulled a small homemade trailer equipped with an old propane oven capable of baking six loaves at once, plus enough supplies for subsistence living along the way. The weary travelers had lots of gumption and made it to Homer with only $43 left in their pockets.
“We parked our bakery van on the Homer Spit, where we set up shop for a few weeks. We then peddled the bread around town and within three weeks, our bread became a sought after commodity in the community.”
“Food for People and the Planet”
The year is 1982 and I (Donna) had just graduated from the first graduating class of The Organic Farm Program, at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. My degree is in Social Ecology, as back then a degree in Organic Farming did not compute with most folks. After my journey to get to Alaska, I realized there was no place like HOMER and I had to figure out a way to stay in this beautiful place with amazing people. So with absolutely no background in food service, business, or commercial baking or cooking I pioneered the first natural foods eatery in Alaska. It was like a salmon trying to swim up stream building a green bakery & cafe on a shoestring budget in a remote Alaskan community. I did my share of hauling water and splitting wood, worked 12-15 hour days for years and loved almost every minute of it.
Long summer days allowed for more waking working hours. Long winter nights allowed for repair and maintenance for my body, mind and spirit and what ever needed fixing at the cafe. The Cafe became a way of life for me and the Homer Community, my family. The rest is history :-)
Kevin joined me in 1984, declining another year of seasonally tally whacking (counting salmon) on Fog Neck Island near Kodak Island to work at the up-and-coming Bakery & Cafe. He was 25 when I hired him as the head baker, and together, with their love for nature, they grew the business model using the motto, “Food for People and the Planet.” He shared the vision for this growing concept and helped set a standard for quality food in eateries around Homer.
From the beginning, we focused on serving organic and regional cuisine using local, organic, produce, and anything Alaska raised we could get our hands on. Nothing beats wild Alaskan Seafood so we built our menu and specials around halibut, salmon, cod, rock fish and crab. One of the first pieces of equipment we bought was a grain mill so we could grind our own organic grain for our breads and 32 years later, the well-maintained mill still grinds the grain that goes into many of our baked goods.
Along with our commitment to quality food, we are also concerned with taking care of Mother Earth. We choose not to use Styrofoam and other environmentally harmful products. Composting and recycling are also part of the Sourdough philosophy. At the Fresh Sourdough Express, the employees are part of a team that practice and embrace our mission of “Food for People and the Planet.”
We remember the days when 20 people a day would ask, “What is organic?” and “Why?” Those days are behind us now, and the time we spent on educating and answering those questions has paid off. Along with our wonderful well-trained staff, we continue to embrace the concept of organic, natural, and regional foods emphasizing sustainability and clean business practices.
Over 34 years later, the original Sourdough Van still resides in front of the original Fresh Sourdough Express as a playhouse for children and the delicious food is still here for you to enjoy.
About the Founders
In 1982, at the age of 25, Donna made the journey to Alaska after finishing a degree in Social Ecology from Evergreen State College. She was an organic farmer, environmental educator, and activist for several years before she ventured up the Alaska Highway. Donna started The Fresh Sourdough Express with $43, and a self-determined passion to make the world a better place one bite at a time. With Donna’s leadership and commitment to serving socially responsible food, the bakery grew to be one of the most popular full-line bakeries & restaurants in the state.
In 1991, Donna created the AH!LASKA brand, and with her husband, Kevin, establishing the first organic cocoa mixes and chocolate syrup for the national market. The products are still selling strongly in health food stores around the nation.
Founder of “Sustainable Homer,” a non-profit group working toward inspiring the Homer community to adopt more sustainable business and lifestyle practices.
She continues to use her creativity in all the Maltz’s businesses through creating marketing materials, developing branded products, and writing the menus for the restaurant.
In 2011, Donna became a certified wellness coach, and, on the Big Island of Hawaii, started The Culinary Healing Arts Retreat and her Your Choice to Change life coaching practice. On their lovely farmstead property,
In spite of all this, she still found time to write the book AH!Mazing Recipes for Kids and Adults. She recently started a new company, Soil to Soul Solutions and is finalizing a Memoir to be published fall of 2016.
In 1984, Kevin Maltz, at the age 26, wandered into the Fresh Sourdough Express and found himself in alignment with the core values and atmosphere of the warm and growing establishment. He read a sign on the side of the cash register: “HEAD BAKER NEEDED *INQUIRE WITHIN.” He saw this as a “sign,” and he applied. Not only did he get the job, but soon after, married the owner! Kevin immediately embraced the responsibilities and everything that went with joint ownership of this visionary growing concept. For over a quarter of a century, Kevin has mastered every aspect of the food service business. He was the head baker for several years, took on the role of lead chef, and is now the kitchen manager and general manager for this successful operation. Kevin’s skills in the food service industry are hard to match.
He currently manages the tremendous staff, many of them being students from Homer High School and the Kenai Peninsula College.
Currently, Donna and Kevin spend a good portion of the year in paradise on the Big Island of Hawaii where they run their Culinary Healing Arts Retreat and Always in Season Vacation Rental, an eco-friendly vacation rental located on their farmstead. Both Donna & Kevin also are Green Food Service Consultants.
About Our Products
All the recipes are original and mastered for duplication on a fresh daily basis.
The Baked Goods
Our fabulous homemade baked goods and bread are made from scratch using mostly organic ingredients. Some of the favorite original handcrafted recipes include the famous Grizzly Bear Brownies, Moose Fudge Cake, Puffin Muffins, Otter Bar Shortbread, Berry Cheese Cake Danish, Sourdough Bread Pudding, Apple Rhubarb Cobbler, Snow Ball Cookies, and Iditarod Chews. We also have a terrific line of Gluten-Free Goodies including cookies, scones, and muffins. We pride ourselves on not making donuts or frying anything for that matter.
Our Awesome Sourdough Pancake and French Toast are over the top. Sourdough biscuits and gravy, and fantastic homemade cereals are a few delicious ways to start your day at the Fresh Sourdough Express. If the finely tuned breakfast menu does not meet your palette, then check out the delights in the bakery case. Fresh bread pudding, pastries, and fabulous plump muffins stuffed with cheesecake are hard to resist. Then there are the signature desserts and decadent milkshakes.
Moving into the afternoon, the menu engulfs you with palate teasers such as the famous seafood chowder, savory-filled baked goods, hearty sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, reindeer grills, halibut hoagies, Alaskan seafood specials all cooked to perfection. Organic and all natural ingredients make all the meals special. Hence the tagline, “It’s our ingredients that make the difference.”
Daily specials vary on what is in season and what fish or produce are the freshest that day. Of course, an assortment of fresh sourdough breads accompanies each meal.