Do you know that the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel is the most popular bagel sold at Panera Bread? That was just one of the fun facts we learned when we went on a tour of Panera Bread in Port Jefferson Station! We also were able to take their Bakers in Training Class with Rachel Cambria, an associate manager at Panera.
But, before we did anything, first we had to wash our hands. Everyone at Panera washes their hands a lot. They have to sing "Happy Birthday" or the "ABCs" song to make sure they wash them long enough, so we did, too!
After we were cleaned up we were able to make our own bread. We got a knife and scored our own bread. Scoring bread means to make marks on the top of the bread. When we put our own bread on the tray, we put flour under our bread. Then the manager helped us put our bread in the oven. We were dazzled about how much steam came out of the oven. We got to taste the Asiago cheese bread. It was crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. There was cheese on the crust of the bread. We loved the Asiago cheese bread.
After that we went on a tour of the restaurant. Panera Bread has a huge oven that could hold two big racks of bread and each rack holds 15 trays. There is an automatic bread slicer that slices bread into thick slices and there is another machine that slices bread into thin slices so you can enjoy the bread however you like it.
We went into a freezer, where it was really cold. We also went in the refrigerator and we saw sauces and all their drinks. We saw the workers heating up the soup and macaroni and cheese. We saw people slicing bread and we saw them putting together sandwiches. At the end of the day, leftover bread goes to Island Harvest. Island Harvest gives the bread to people who don't have much food. After the tour, we decorated our own cookies.
We were also lucky enough to taste Panera's macaroni and cheese. When we got our mac and cheese it had tons of cheese! Greg and Joe thought the macaroni and cheese was very creamy and delicious. Jamie loved the smooth cheese taste. Chris thought it would be good for anyone who likes a strong cheese flavor in their macaroni and cheese.
Panera Bread has a huge selection of bread and a lot of desserts. Our shortbread cookies were delicious. We thought the fudge brownie looked really good, too. There are more than 40 Panera Bread restaurants on or around Long Island with more opening soon. We had a fun time here, and this tour wasn't just for us. Contact Panera Bread and maybe your group can do this, too, or have a party here. Visit: panera.com