Member Profile: Lost Larson

June 26, 2023

A bakery dedicated to regionally grown, fresh flour and serving up traditionally-inspired bakery to Chicago's Andersonville community and beyond.

Lost Larson is a milling bakery in Andersonville, a Chicago neighborhood with Swedish roots.

Bobby Schaffer grew up unaware of his Swedish heritage because his grandfather had long ago taken the last name of his employer. In 2018, he and his sister Bree planted this bakery and café right down the street from the Swedish American Museum.

“Lost Larson is my 'lost' last name, but also a reference to rediscovering more traditional ways of baking with freshly milled grains from regional farms,” said Bobby.

The menu came from the siblings’ exploring in Sweden. “We were amazed at how many bakeries there were,” Bobby said, discovering evidence that the concept of Fika, a habit of pausing for coffee and a snack each day, is alive and well.  

The menu reflects Scandinavian classics, like cardamom buns and smørrebrød (open faced sandwiches), and the baked goods and breads integrate whole grain flours that are milled right in front of customers.  

“The first thing people see when they enter the bakery is that jewelry box of a mill,” said Bobby, who placed their New American Stone Mill where it would catch people’s attention (as shown above in the photo by Anthony Tahlier). A bakers’ bench is right next to it, so people can also see the process of handling dough, and, if inspired, ask questions. “We get people who are very inquisitive. Parents hold up their toddlers to see grains flowing from the hopper to the mill,” said Bobby.

Bobby studied for this work at The Breadlab at Washington State University where he worked closely with Jonathan Bethany and began to understand the way that grain varieties can influence everything from flavor to function in baked goods. Although he initially trained as a chef, Bobby received a scholarship from the trade commission of Spain to live, travel, and work throughout the country for a year, and became fascinated with pastry while working in a renowned bakery in Barcelona making pastries, chocolates, and croissants. Later, he ran the bakery at Stone Barns in New York. Jonathan’s excitement for exploring flavor and using whole grains really clicked for Bobby, who credits Jonathan—and his Washington, D.C., bakery Seylou—for informing his own curiosity about whole grains.

Lost Larson is well-situated to be a part of Andersonville's Midsommar Fest annual June street fair.

Lost Larson mills all their whole grain flour, which is about a quarter of the total flour volume they use. The grains have long come from Janie’s Mill, and recently, from Meadowlark Community Mill as well.  

“The best sellers are our cinnamon rolls and cardamom bus,” Bobby said. The carrot cake special they ran for Mother's Day was made with 100% spelt, and croissants regularly contain 25% whole grain flour. “People don't necessarily know that the fresh-milled grain is what makes our products taste unique.”

After spending 12 years as a pastry chef in fine dining, the bakery is where he wants to be. Lost Larson offers everyday access to freshly milled bakery products, breads, and cakes. “The bakery is part of a community, and we see the same people throughout the week,” he said. It’s more of a relationship, and a space that fosters regular exchange of ideas, and new approaches to grains.

Likewise, Lost Larson is pleased to be a part of AGC. Neighbor Loaves was a specific way for their community to support others and the bakery during the early pandemic. More broadly, having a network of people working together for novel grain relationships is key to the success of their individual enterprise.

Bobby participated in the 2023 baking trials (shown here at left, with Keith Williams of UW-Madison Seed to Kitchen Collaborative) and was glad to be with other bakers, and take the time to see how different varieties worked in the doughs. He especially liked being able to taste what they made, and see the impact varieties had on flavors.  

“This is why we have the mill, to be able to use special wheat,” Bobby said. He looks forward to the expansion of available grains, and in the meantime, continuing to keep inspiring people to taste regional grains, and seek out local grains and flours.

Stay in touch with Lost Larson using the links below:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


5318 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640


2140 W. Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

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