Learning to bake cookies alongside his nurturing mother, Julian Plyter of Melt Bakery unknowingly discovered his life’swork . In this installment of Faces Behind the Food, Julian shares memories from his childhood, when he first learned to roll out cookie dough and used fruit picked ripe for his cookies. This early introduction to baking led Julian to pursue baking professionally and open up the beloved Melt Bakery. For hours and locations of all of our vendors, see High Line Food.
Tell us about yourself and your passion for food and drink, including any fun or unusual facts that we might not know. (Any secret talents, perhaps?)
I have been an avid supporter of local food since I was a kid, picking peaches in my great-grandfather's backyard, picking cherries with my mom from our own tree, and planting and cultivating gardens with my family. I am also a classically trained pianist, although it's been a while; not sure if there's any talent left in that pool! My favorite composer to play was always Chopin. My paternal grandmother was actually my first piano teacher, and she gave me many of my beloved cookie recipes as well.
The earliest memory I have is rolling cookie dough at the age of four using old-fashioned tools like cherry pitters and wooden spoons belonging to my grandmother. We had orange-and-green wallpaper in the kitchen that I can still visualize, too. My mother inspired my love of baking. I’ve spent countless hours beside my mother learning to replicate her recipes, but no one can make better cinnamon buns than she. In our hometown, she also reigns as queen of homemade pies. The classic Melt cookie is a chocolate-chip walnut, adapted from one of my mother’s old recipes.
What do you love about your location on the High Line at West 16th Street?
On those sweltering New York summer days, when not a puff of air stirs anywhere in the city streets, the High Line park always has a steady, cool breeze to keep me and my customers refreshed.
Much like the wildflowers that change with every season, so does our menu – it changes weekly, in fact. Right now, we have the Ethereal ice cream sandwich made with delicious strawberries from a farm I know very well in my hometown of Williamson, NY. My cousins, Jim and Laurie Peters, own and operate this farm. Let me tell you, these strawberries are of the purest source. I grew up in a simple fashion that serves as a model for sourcing my ingredients. As a child, if I wanted a peach, I would pick it ripe from the source. This is why our ingredients change with the seasons, because this model of picking the ripest, best ingredients is innate in me.
I also love that my heritage and childhood hometown are inseparable from Melt Bakery. The honey we’re using now is actually grown by one of my former teachers in high school. Other farmers like the Lagners and Masons – people I have known my whole life – make up the Melt Bakery family and contribute to its success.
You interact with hundreds of customers each day. Share your favorite memory with us.
A favorite memory that always comes to mind is seeing an entire team of Spanish soccer players – all kids – eating ice cream sandwiches, lying on the lawn. They were content in the moment, completely satisfied by the comfort of being surrounded by good company and good food. They clearly had just won a hard-earned game of soccer; I could see this in the sweat on their brows and in the celebratory manner in which they laughed and joked. I am happy to have been able to provide them a sweet treat to complement their sweet victory.
Melt Bakery is located on the High Line at Little West 12th Street and open daily from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM.