John Wootton loves what he does. He works as Pioneer Market’s head baker and feels blessed to have the opportunity to bake bread, rolls and doughnuts for the customers of the newly renovated Pioneer Market.
For the last 49 years he has brought his classic baked goods to Harmons in Salt Lake City and Kohler’s in Lehi and Highland.
“I got a call from Doyle Kohler about 20 years ago and was asked if I would come and help him manage both the Lehi and Highland stores. I’ve been on board ever since. I used to live in Holliday, but now I live in Alpine,” said the 76-year-old baker.
When asked how he learned the art of baking, he readily gives credit to his grandmother and mother for always baking bread at home.
Before his baking career began, Wootton served in the navy during the Vietnam conflict. He was assigned to the USS Ranger and USS Oriskany and served two tours in Vietnam while attached to the tactical fighting squadron. He also used his free time to bake during his service.
The USS Ranger became famous for its appearance in the hit movie Top Gun and Star Trek. Both ships have since been sunk.
Wootton arrives at work around 2 a.m. and leaves about 7 a.m. He will open the store and begin his work for the day. He makes between 40-80 loaves of bread a day plus French bread, rolls and donuts. He said his most popular bread is the cinnamon chip.
“It makes the most delicious French toast,” he said. His wife, Joanie, agrees. She commented, “I have them slice the bread thick, then I make it like any other French toast and use buttermilk syrup. It is a family favorite.” When asked what makes his bakery items so much in demand, he said, “I use only the best ingredients I can get and have time-tested the recipes.”
According to Pioneer Market management, people come from all over to buy Wootton’s bread and other baked goods and he has a huge following of faithful consumers.
“I am doing this for me. It gives me something to do. Many of my friends have passed away and I feel blessed to have something to do that I enjoy,” said Wootton.
There are many who are glad for Wootton’s skill in the bakery. One loyal customer declared, “I wouldn’t know what to do if I couldn’t get Pioneer Bakery’s bread. We go through at least two loaves a week, just the two of us.”