Chef/Owners of Chroma Café and Bakery
Sometimes a second career fulfills a lifetime dream and that’s certainly true with Heath and Nancy Hauptfleisch. Nancy started baking at a young age and worked her way through college working in bakeries and catering kitchens. Those experiences included tutelage in an old-world style Jewish bakery. Her career path took a different turn as she spent a number of years as a development director in the nonprofit world, but the love of baking never left. Heath, who studied art at Syracuse University, became a professional paramedic and served the public in that capacity for almost two decades. He too had a passion for baking and being a research addict, he taught himself how to bake, combining his natural artistic talents with the science of the craft.
After baking for friends and family and hearing the constant refrain “you should go into the baking business” they took the plunge in 2012 and opened Chroma Café and Bakery in downtown Binghamton. If you’re wondering how they came up with the name, this is how they explain it, “Chroma is a term from the art world and defined it refers to the intensity of distinctive hue or the saturation of a color. Chroma Café & Bakery intends to define itself with the intensity of distinctive flavors and the saturation of skilled artisan baking and cooking in its own unique style.”
It would be safe to say that Nancy and Heath are fanatical about certain facets of the business, like insisting that ingredients be of the highest quality, prepared in-house and never “processed”. Bread for sandwiches is freshly baked daily. You won’t find factory produced yeast in the Chroma kitchen because Heath makes his own. The pork is roasted and the chicken grilled right in their kitchen. The stock for their homemade soups is similarly prepared. The natural goodness of that slowly simmered stock, which is sometimes referred to these days with the trendy description “bone broth”, but regardless of what you call it, it makes the difference between good and great soup. But the extent of “homemade” doesn’t stop there. Daily panni and empanada specials bring out the creative side of the owners. The ever popular black bean and sweet potato veggie burger is another example, along with pickled daikon radishes, onion/balsamic marmalade or the always sought after bacon marmalade.
Chroma will soon begin working closely with Farmer Ground Flour, a small organic mill in Trumansburg, to further enhance their commitment to high quality local products. Nancy and Heath are also very supportive of VINES, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting urban gardening. Whenever possible, they purchase VINES produce, which is grown just a few blocks from the café. Another new and local twist is “Brew Bread” where Heath uses the spent grains from local breweries, replaces the water with the beer produced from the grains, and comes up with bread unlike no other.
Now, you would think that Heath would get the urge to bake out of his system in the café kitchen, but not so. Last summer he took on a backyard project and after untold hours of labor and six tons of fire brick he built the ultimate brick oven. With temperatures reaching as high as 1000° and using seasoned cherry wood his pizza is to die for.
It happened that the day STIR was chatting with Nancy and Heath about this story, a customer shared her observations. It was her first visit and she raved about the décor, the service and most important of all, the scones were pronounced to be the best on the planet. Those comments sum up the story of Nancy and Heath’s Chroma Bakery and Café.