The couple traveled from Charleston to Mexico and back in pursuit of wood-fired cookery and natural flavors
CM: How did an upstate New York native (Zachary) and a Houstonian (Hannah) end up in Charleston?
HW: We moved here separately to work for Sean Brock [at Husk], where we met in the kitchen. Zachary was the sous chef; I was the chef de partie. Our love for cooking created a beautiful friendship, which then blossomed into three years married.
CM: In 2018, you both left to cook at a restaurant in the jungle of Tulum, Mexico. How did that happen?
HW: They reached out to us about a job opportunity at Hartwood, which is a restaurant that we both had been interested in for a long time. So we basically put our entire life in storage and moved down there for a year and a half, cooking in the jungle. They were looking for two people that love to cook with fire, which is something that we both learned at Husk.
CM: Did your experience at Hartwood influence how you’re cooking now?
ZW: When you’re in Tulum, you can’t just run out to a US Foods Chef’s Store if you don’t have something, so you’re definitely using that local product and showcasing it in the best way that you can. We had super fresh local fish coming in every day and unique tropical fruits, spices, and herbs. That really spills over to what we’re doing now because the closer that you can get it to home, the better it’s going to taste.
CM: Where did you find the wood-burning pizza oven that you built your pop-up and catering business around?
HW: We knew we wanted a Fiero Forni. We saved our pennies, and then one randomly popped up for sale on Facebook Marketplace. So we got our dream oven for a little bit of a discount, and it’s been tried and true now for two years.
CM: Had you planned to open a brick-and-mortar when you moved back?
ZW: We knew that the pizza oven was going to be a stepping stone and that when we saw the perfect space, we would come up with the perfect concept for that space.
HW: We were honestly just driving down King Street. We’d been looking for a spot for a year, and there was like this beacon of light. We glanced over and saw a “commercial kitchen for rent” sign. We called immediately and signed a lease six days later.
CM: What can customers expect to find when they visit Weltons Tiny Bakeshop?
HW: We’ll have all of the pastry on display. It’s takeaway, so everything will be boxed to go in a sweet little pastry box. Plus, we’ll offer hot and iced coffee, bubbly water, and bottles of wine and Munkle beer that you can grab to take home. There’s seating for 12 inside and 12 on our patio and up the alleyway.
CM: You’re using naturally leavening for many of your breads. Is that hard to do in Charleston?
ZW: It’s definitely hard to nail the consistency. We oftentimes have 100-percent humidity, and sometimes it’s 95 degrees out, so it ebbs and flows. But that’s just part of the exciting thing about sourdough—it keeps you on your toes and keeps you working with the weather.
CM: How tiny is Weltons Tiny Bakeshop?
HW: Just 956 square feet, so it’s intimate—it’s the perfect size for sure.