You could say that Master Baker, Dean Chiotti, (of Alessio Baking Co. in southeast Portland) knows baking. While this is a true statement, it is also a vast understatement. It’s what his family has done for generations – nine generations to be exact. “I love it,” says 70-year-old, Chiotti. “It’s what we do,” he adds with a shrug of modesty.
Dean’s family dates back to 1687 in the Piedmont region of Italy, with Michaelangelo Dompe. It is still recorded in the church records that Dompe’s weekly tithing was five loaves of bread and one kilo of flour. To this day there are still Dompe family members running a successful bakery in Brossasco, Italy just on the other side of the hill from where the very first bakery originated.
In 1903 Dean’s grandmother, Marcella Dompe, (great,great,great granddaughter of Michaelangelo) married a baker, Joe Chiotti, who was working for her father. The newlyweds were gifted passage to America.
Marcella’s cousin Alessio was in Portland, Oregon and happened to be acting president of the French Baking Company at 607 SW 6th Avenue. When Marcella and Joe arrived they joined forces with Alessio and opened the New French Bakery at SE Hawthorne and Grand Ave. in Portland in 1915.
In 1970, Dean at this time a young man just out of the service, and two of his cousins, became owners of Pierre’s French Bakery. Pierre’s was the newly evolved version of the French Baking Co. that had been started by Dean’s grandparents in the early 1900’s. Pierre’s established itself as an exemplary baking company, supplying breads to many of Portland’s finest restaurants. They had worked hard over the years and deservedly became an iconic Portland establishment.
With time, came change and there was to be a merger in 1992 with Gais Bakery of Seattle. Gais then merged with Franz and one of the old Pierre’s locations on 10th and Oak Street is now a Franz distribution warehouse.
Pierre’s would be no longer.
The years passed without Pierre’s, but Dean Chiotti could not get baking out of his blood. In 2002, with his partner, Rita Boyd, Dean decided to give it another go. Alessio Baking Company was born in the old SE Portland Italian neighborhood.
When asked how he came up with the name, Alessio, Dean stated, “I have a granddaughter named Alessandra and my dad’s middle name was Alessio.” “Actually,” he stated, “There were several people in the family, named Alessio. We started over from scratch. There was nothing from Pierre’s left.”
Currently, Alessio Baking Co. is going strong. They bake many specialty breads such as, ciabatta, focaccia, crusty long rolls, and grissini which are made, stirati a mano – stretched by hand. The same way they’ve always been made in Italy.
Alessio Baking Co. now provides, as Pierre’s once did, beautiful hearth style breads and baked goods for some of Portland’s finest eating establishments. They are located at 2025 SE 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.
If you would like more information or want to place a special order with Dean please feel free call them at: 503-231-8100.