The Hudson Oven

Close your eyes and imagine a world where bread is the staff of life. Where flour, water, salt and time make for a primal alchemy – no thoughts of carbohydrates, gluten intolerance, or spongy tastelessness. It’s a nice place, isn’t it? Grandview native Chase Harnett, owner of The Hudson Oven, gets you there with gorgeous loves of fragrant, chewy sourdough dense with his passion for the craft. This is bread as it should be. The trick is finding it.

The Hudson Oven doesn’t have a storefront, and 24-year-old Harnett makes his bread on weekends when he isn’t working his full time job in the greenhouse at Stone Barns in Westchester, so when and where the bread will be available is a bit of a treasure hunt. Somewhere within a 50-mile radius of Ossining, New York, where Harnett now lives, a vintage cupboard will appear stocked with several dozen loaves, brown bags and a money box for whatever amount customers see fit to pay. Where the cupboard will be is determined by how far Harnett feels like driving on a given Sunday. Customers sign up for alerts on the next cupboard drop.

There’s whimsy to this set up, but Harnett is dead serious about his bread. He calls it “the top of the pyramid of all the things that interest me.” An avid camper and gardener, Harnett spent several months in Paris as a college student, and came home hungry for the delicious bread he’d had in France. He interned with Tom Daly, founder of the now defunct Handsome Bread Company in Nyack, and learned the craft. When Daly offered him a deal on his rare portable wood-fired oven, Harnett couldn’t pass it up, and The Hudson Oven was born.

Harnett believes every step of the bake is important. “There’s only four ingredients in this bread,” he says, “and you may as well pay attention to each one.” He sources his flour from a mill in Ithaca, lugs jugs of water from a secret spring, and makes his own starter (the bubbly, yeasty base for sourdough). He tends the dough for hours as it rises, turning it every 30 minutes in a large metal cattle trough.

He portions the dough into loaves, proofs it overnight, and stokes the oven for a full day before the bake. Finally, after almost three days of preparation, 80 to 100 loaves of steaming, crusty bread emerge from the oven ready for delivery. Or not. Sometimes things don’t work out and the batch is a failure. “I’ve been humbled many times,” says Harnett, but he’s philosophical. “It’s a product that expires fairly quickly,” he says. “But that’s kind of the nice thing about it. It impacts people quickly and then it’s gone, but what is permanent is the community around it.”

Harnett also turns out artisanal pizza with as much care as his bread, and can be hired to bring his oven and expertise to your private event. The pizza is good business, but it’s the unpredictable science and elusive art of making bread that excites him. “ The closer you look,” he says, “the more you see what you don’t know.” This perseverance may be the magic in these loaves., but Harnett says it more poetically; each loaf is “a little package of who I am.”

To join The Hudson Oven community, and sink your teeth into Harnett’s latest effort, go to to sign up for alerts.