Jeff Cleary, Grateful Bread’s founder and head baker, has had his hands in the food world since he was thirteen, from dishwasher and prep cook to his first business, Cleary’s Bakery and Catering, which he started in a historic 1913-era train station in Minersville, Pennsylvania at age fifteen.
After graduation from a vocational culinary arts program and high school, Jeff was accepted to Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts in Providence, Rhode Island. While he trained, he honed his craft at several local restaurants, and in 1988 graduated with an Associate of Occupational Sciences Culinary Arts degree.
Taking a two-year culinary apprenticeship at Hyatt's flagship hotel in Atlanta and then a promotion to Banquet Chef in Hilton Head, Jeff trained in all areas of hospitality and management of hotel food and beverage operation. In 1992, Jeff moved to Colorado and worked in a handful of Denver-area restaurants, including Baci Ristorante, where he was the opening chef and had the opportunity to cook for Julia Child.
In 1997, Jeff opened Café Bohemia, a new American restaurant influenced by traditional French flavors, which offered a 3-course, semi-prix fixe dinner menu that changed weekly. In four years, Jeff produced over 200 different tasting menus for the café to much acclaim: Café Bohemia was one of only 21 Denver-area restaurants included in the 2000 Zagat Survey America's Top Restaurants, and the café, which received an A+ in the Rocky Mountain News and 3 stars in the Denver Post, was also named one of Denver's "Best-Kept Dining Secrets" in 5280 magazine and Bill St. John included Café Bohemia on his list of "Denver's Top Ten Hottest New Restaurants". At the same time, Jeff and his partner, Pascal Trompeau, opened Trompeau Bakery, a traditional French bakery producing authentic breads and pastries that gained a loyal following of retail and wholesale customers in Denver.
Jeff took over management of the ailing Pinnacle Club (formerly The Petroleum Club) which in 1999 was on the verge of shutting down. Within the first year Jeff turned the facility around into a highly profitable one, thereby providing the funds to do a million dollar renovation to the aging facility. Jeff served as Executive Director and Culinary Director of the entire facility from 1999 to 2002.
In 2002, Jeff opened Intrigue restaurant in a refurbished commercial garage. Intrigue featured creative American cuisine with French influences where everything was made daily from scratch. Like Café Bohemia, Intrigue became a Denver favorite, receiving 3 1/2 out of 4 stars from 5280 in June 2003 and a host of favorable reviews from publications such as the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Using Intrigue’s in-house bakery, Jeff began baking bread for chefs such as Frank Bonanno and Alex Seidel. In 2005 Jeff founded Grateful Bread, a venture which earned him a nomination for Baker of the Year by Denver Magazine in 2010.
At Grateful Bread, Jeff strives to create an environment where his skilled artisan bakers can take pride in creating authentic, old-world style loaves by hand for many of Denver's favorite restaurants and hotels. His wife Kathy acts as client ambassador, working with each client to create a product that speaks to the concept and cuisine of each restaurant. Jeff enjoys working with chefs who are as committed to quality as he is, and he designs and handcrafts custom artisan breads for the best chefs in Denver, breads which convey their commitment to using only the very best ingredients.