By Edward Dolnick
Special to the Rappahannock News
A stranger who picked up Brian Noyes’s résumé would think that someone had made a mistake and stapled together pages from a couple of different, and very accomplished, biographies. Noyes is a local favorite who is owner and baker-in-chief of Red Truck Bakery. Before that, he was art director of the Washington Post Magazine and Smithsonian and Preservation magazines. On May 10 at 8 p.m., he will be the featured speaker in a special “Welcome to Summer” talk in the Second Friday series. Noyes will speak at the Little Washington Theatre (291 Gay St.) — not at the library.
John Fox Sullivan, the former mayor of Washington, will host a Q&A. Noyes will tell stories and answer questions about his remarkable journey. He will talk about food and cooking, no doubt, but also about his career in publishing and then as a businessman and entrepreneur. Today Red Truck has two locations, one in Marshall and one in Warrenton, and they ship baked items by the thousands across the nation. None of that was foreordained, and Noyes will talk about the ups and downs of trying to open a business in Little Washington and in Marshall.
The food part of his saga took off about a decade ago. Noyes was working as a full-time journalist and moonlighting as a baker, out of a farmhouse in Fauquier. Saturday mornings found him — with bread, cakes, and pies — at the late E-Cow and Ballard’s. Then, just in time for Christmas 2008, came a rave review in the New York Times, from food writer Marian Burros. Noyes had “a deft hand with pastries and an unerring sense of flavor balance,” Burros told her readers. Overnight, the Red Truck website went from 24 hits in a day to fifty-seven thousand. Noyes left his publishing career behind.
Today he numbers Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama among his legions of fans, and the praise continues to pour in. “Whatever Brian Noyes bakes tastes so familiar and yet so surprising that I can never decide whether to tell all my friends, or hoard every bite for myself,” the Washington Post marveled.
Lately Noyes has been on the road peddling his Red Truck Bakery Cookbook. On the day of his Little Washington talk, he will be dashing up from Raleigh, N.C., after serving dessert to 2,500 people.
The talk is free (and there will be cake!), and Noyes will sign copies of his book.
Edward Dolnick is a writer who lives in Rappahannock