Local Spotlight: Barry Turner of Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Cafe

Barry Turner, partner at Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Cafe, says one of his favorite menu items is the chicken salad sandwich.
Barry Turner, partner at Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Cafe, says one of his favorite menu items is the chicken salad sandwich.

I recently sat down for a Q & A with Barry Turner, partner at one of my favorite hometown bakeries here in Statesboro, Ga.–Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Café to learn what inspires him in the kitchen, and what the bakery has in store for 2014.

Why was Statesboro the place you chose to open the bakery?
I am from here, have lived here all of my life, with the exception of some time in Atlanta in school, and didn’t consider any other place! At the time Statesboro did not have a bakery, and the renovation of Gaslight Crossing offered what seemed to be a good location for the business. So, after careful consideration, the bakery was founded.

I’ve noticed you guys bake with a lot of organic ingredients and sell local products. What’s the philosophy behind Sugar Magnolia Bakery and why?
We want to offer good quality, great taste, and whenever possible, options which are as healthy as possible. While we realize that the very nature of many bakery offerings isn’t what one would consider healthy, we want what we offer to be as good as it can be. When feasible, we like to use local products, and we always want to use ingredients of good quality. The local supply can be a challenge, since the volume of ingredients we require often out paces some of the local supplies–however, we still utilize products from local producers when it works for us. Another challenge is having a customer base that is willing to pay extra for ingredients which may cost a bit more.  While the idea of choosing organic options, for example, may be attractive in theory, not everyone is really willing to pay extra for food made with ingredients that aren’t mass-produced food service products. It can be a struggle to do what we would like to do, and what we have to do to be profitable.  In the end, all the good intentions in the world are for naught if we don’t succeed as a business. 

The Ham & Cheese Rolls are one of the most popular menu items at the bakery. "Some Kinda Good" approved!
The Ham & Cheese Rolls are one of the most popular menu items at the bakery. “Some Kinda Good” approved!

What’s your best-selling bakery item and item on the menu?
We have a number of menu items that seem to be more popular than others–they include our ham & cheese rolls, chicken salad, chewy cake, pizza, fresh mozzarella Panini and our pulled pork hash which we offer at Sunday brunch.  I’m sure you’ll find plenty of people whose favorites are one of the other items we offer!

What’s your personal favorite thing to eat at Sugar Magnolia?
I like the ham & cheese roll, the chicken salad sandwich, and the roast turkey sandwich.  For something sweet, I love the carrot cake and chewy cake.

Tell me about your new business partner Adam, and what his role is at the bakery.
Adam is a culinary school graduate who has worked in some great places in Atlanta and beyond. He is a Statesboro native, though, and worked with us at Sugar Magnolia previously before coming on as an owner. Adam brings a wealth of knowledge in food service operation, as well as a passion for food and cooking. He is assessing our operation at present, and is helping develop plans for improvement where necessary, and working to expand our menu and service.  

I’ve been to an Open Mic Night at Sugar Magnolia before. What kinds of events are on schedule in 2014?
We do have the occasional poetry night at the bakery, and also provide a venue for local musicians. We love local folks who play their own music. Since we don’t have a large space, smaller, acoustic based groups, or individuals, is best. We also have local artwork displayed in our dining area. Artists can schedule a show of their work, usually for about a month, and can even sell their work at the bakery. We love supporting the local art scene, in our own small way.

How are you inspired in the kitchen?
I get great pleasure out of serving something that people like to eat. I want the food that we serve at Sugar Magnolia to be more than just something to fill the stomach, I want it to be an opportunity to build memories with friends, to create an atmosphere of community, and to be something that someone will remember fondly, but in the end, to be something that is just good! Even though I don’t do a lot of the cooking or baking myself, I love trying out new things and getting reactions from people who taste what I’ve cooked. I like making soups, bread puddings, and other comfort foods.  

From left: Chief Baker, Sharena Williams and Barry Turner show off the fresh baked Ham & Cheese Rolls.
From left: Chief Baker, Sharena Williams and Barry Turner show off the fresh-baked Ham & Cheese Rolls.

Tell me about your staff.
We have a fantastic group of people working with us at Sugar Magnolia, from our chief baker, Sharena Williams, to our other bakers and cooks, to counter personnel. Everyone here believes in what we do, and they are invested in doing a good job for our customers. While we are in transition presently, with a new ownership structure, we are mindful of keeping the good things that people love, while trying to improve and expand where possible.  

Name an ingredient that’s always in your pantry at home.
Now that’s a tough one–we typically always have way more than we need in the pantry and freezer at the house! My wife, Marilyn, and I both like to cook, but typically not together–too much chance for conflicting views on how something should be done! Some basic ingredients that we usually always have, though, which would allow us to whip up a meal for unexpected guests, include pasta, something to make a good pasta sauce, and of course a loaf of some sort of bread from Sugar Magnolia! We usually get something that is leftover at the end of the day, but I really am not kidding when I say we always have a loaf of bakery bread. It is good for grilled or French toast in the morning, for a sandwich at lunch, and as a great accompaniment with that last-minute pasta dinner. Popped into the oven with some cheese, Italian herbs, and a little olive oil, and our French bread or Sourdough is often supper (along with a glass of wine, if you are into that). Our bread keeps in the ‘fridge for a week or more, and is still quite good.

Opened in the fall of 2005, Sugar Magnolia Bakery and Café is owned and operated by Statesboro natives Barry and Marilyn Turner, and Adam Sapp. Specializing in fresh-baked breads and treats, both sweet and savory; including breakfast pastries, cookies and brownies, the bakery is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and my personal favorite– weekend brunch! Sugar Magnolia is located downtown on Savannah Ave. adjacent to Eagle Creek Brewing Company. Be sure to join the nearly 2,000 others that follow them on Facebook at Facebook/SugarMagnoliaBakery for your chance to win a free slice of their scrumptious pizza! 

Know of a business you’d like to see featured in The Local Spotlight? Join the conversation on social media by using #LocalSpotlight or email Rebekah at SKGFoodBlog@gmail.com

New to Some Kinda Good? Welcome!
I’m a Georgia food writer and Statesboro-based TV personality. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s The Taste, I’m the Statesboro Herald Food Columnist, and I co-produce and host Statesboro Cooks, airing on local cable Channel 99. This blog, Some Kinda Good is a Southern, coastal food blog highlighting East coast restaurant reviews and Lowcountry-inspired recipes. I hope you’ll stick around, and follow me on Twitter at @SKGFoodBlog or find me on Facebook. If you want, learn more about me, and thanks for visiting!

This article originally appeared in the Statesboro Herald on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014.

Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

A Holiday Menu Featuring Pastured Pork Tenderloin

wpid-20131030_222638.jpgIt’s officially holiday season. Let the menu and party planning begin! I’ve put together a holiday inspired meal including a classic combination of flavors, along with some of my family’s traditional recipes that are impressive on the table but simple to execute. These dishes are special enough for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but delicious year ’round. Here’s what’s cookin’: Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Sautéed Cinnamon Apples, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole, Farm-Raised Green Beans and Grandma’s Made-from-Scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. We couldn’t celebrate the holidays without incorporating pumpkin, so for dessert, the Pumpkin Spice Trifle will make its debut appearance.
wpid-20131030_222643.jpgThe star of this show is the Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin. This time of year, I think folks get ham and turkey’d out. So, now is a great time to allow pork to step into the limelight. To accomplish that gorgeous golden brown exterior and moist meat, I use a combination of dried and fresh herbs and Georgia olive oil. Season the meat liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle it with olive oil, then massage in a healthy amount of fresh basil, fresh rosemary and about a two teaspoons of dried oregano. Here’s a tip: Cook the tenderloin in a 9 x 13 dish, and just before putting it in the oven, add about an inch of water to the pan. Roast the meat at 425 degrees for 25 minutes per pound. Another reason this tenderloin tastes amazing, is because it’s pasture-raised. This little piggie wasn’t given any antibiotics or steroids, and was free to roam and eat Georgia grass. The result is a much more nutritious animal that’s healthier to eat and healthier for our environment. Thanks to my friends at Hunter Cattle Company for raising it.

wpid-20131030_222647.jpgNothing compliments pork like a side of delicious cinnamon apples sautéed in butter. This is as simple as it gets. Slice 5 to 6 medium apples about a 1/4 inch thick and saute in four tablespoons of unsalted butter. Allow them to cook down, then season with cinnamon and keep them warm. You don’t even have to peel them!

wpid-20131030_222657.jpgGreen beans may be a popular side item, but served this way you can’t go wrong. My Farm-raised Green Beans also feature Hunter Cattle’s smoked bacon and sweet Vidalia onions and homegrown tomatoes from the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market. Cook the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels. Saute diced onion and tomato in the remaining bacon fat, season with salt & pepper and add to cooked green beans with a pat or two of butter. Top with crumbled bacon. On the left above, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole is a regular at every family function. It adds a wonderful pop of color to the plate. The topping, made of chopped pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter–is like candy.

wpid-20131030_222650.jpgFinally, no meal would be complete without Southern, made-from-scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. With a dollop of blackberry jam, bread never tasted so good.

wpid-IMG_20131101_110403.jpgAfter a mouth-watering meal, a 14-layer cake or heavy pie is overwhelming. My Pumpkin Spice Trifle hits the spot. Complimented by soft spice cake and crunchy gingersnap cookies, it’s like a pillow-y cloud of light fresh whipped cream and vanilla pudding bursting with fall flavors. Plus, it makes a stunning presentation.


For the complete recipes to these dishes and to watch me cook them in action, tune in to my next episode of Statesboro Cooks, premiering in mid-November on local cable Channel 99. Be sure to watch the show to discover my secret to the best buttermilk biscuits you ever tasted! For those outside of the area, I’ll be sure to post the episode right here on Some Kinda Good, so you can watch too. Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season. Eat well!