Q&A With Pete Schmutte

After making his name at Cerulean with his architectural, globally inspired pastry creations, Pete Schmutte worked a number of gigs around the city honing his flour craft. Next, he plans to go back to basics and strike out on his own at a new full-service bakery and sandwich cafe, Leviathan Bakehouse, in the former R2GO spot on College Avenue.

Indy diners know you mostly for your wildly creative, eclectic desserts from fine-dining restaurants. What can locals expect from the Leviathan?
We’ll definitely have a ton of really great pastries—Danishes (both savory and sweet), classic entremets, hand-laminated croissants, and cakes. But we’ll also have a full bread program, as well as great cookies and some retail items like imported butters.

What are some specific items customers can look forward to?
Matt [Steinbronn] will be making his great chocolate-chip cookies. They’re basically chewy ginger cookies, crispy around the edges, with lots of milk chocolate. We’ll have my chocolate-espresso mousse bomb that I’ve made before with a flourless cake, chocolate mousse, and a sable cookie. We’ll also have a hearty porridge loaf with more than 15 ingredients, including oats, rye, polenta, and sesame seeds. It will have a deep, dark fermented taste that will be great for sandwiches.

Did you always know that you were going to have your own place?
I’ve thought about having my own place for years, but I always butted up against the question of where I’d put it. Where am I going to attract customers that will come to us? But I realized that if you do what you want to do and do it at the highest level, the customers will come to you.

How are you drawing on your past experiences at Leviathan?
I’ve been in this business for almost 25 years, and I’m taking a lot from all of the jobs I’ve had for the bakehouse. I didn’t initially know that I was meant for this industry, and I started out at IU in Bloomington studying English composition. But I got a job making sandwiches at what was then Tina’s in Bloomington. That was also where I got my first crack at baking. The industry just sort of chose me, and eventually I stopped going to classes and took the food business more seriously.

What does the name Leviathan imply about your new bakehouse?
It could have started with a Mastadon album, but I can’t be sure. Basically, I didn’t want the name to be too direct about what we do, and I wanted the name to take on a life of its own. I love New York’s Balthazar Bakery, and no one quite knows what it means. It’s taken on different nuances for different people. That’s what I want to happen at Leviathan. We love that it’s this thing we can give its own personality to and that will mean many different things to our customers.