From an inventive array of rustic breads to the world-famous six-ounce chocolate chip walnut cookie, everything is baked on-site, fresh every day from the finest natural ingredients.
Nestled in New York City’s Upper West Side, Levain headquarters is a cozy neighborhood bakery where locals are greeted by name. A steady stream of loyal regulars stand side by side with tourists, eager to sample the legendary baked goods.
From an inventive array of rustic breads to the world-famous six-ounce chocolate chip walnut cookie, everything is baked on-site, fresh every day from the finest natural ingredients. What doesn’t sell that day goes to help feed the hungry—a mission that has been solidly in place since the beginning.
The bakery was founded in 1994 by friends Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes. At the time, Connie was in banking and Pam in Fashion. The two, both competitive swimmers, trained together for the Ironman and—not surprisingly, as their tireless workouts left them feeling starved for great food— they began a passionate dialog about creating the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie.
Within just a few years, Levain Bakery had become a neighborhood institution and a destination for epicurious travelers from around the world. Demand continued to grow. In 2000, to satisfy their regular clientele summering in the Hamptons, the two opened a second bakery in the village of Wainscott on Long Island’s East End. And today, through their website, they now ship their world-famous cookies to happy fans around the globe.
“Trust your instincts and follow your heart.”
Levain co-owner Pam Weekes has never forgotten the wholesome, homemade bread and treats of her childhood on the North Shore of Long Island. It’s not just a tremendous fondness for desserts that runs in her family, but also the joy of baking them and sharing with the ones you love. In addition, Pam brings a unique set of perspectives to the equation. Like Connie, she is also a competitive athlete and, before the two met and came together to start Levain Bakery, she worked for legendary fashion designer Norma Kamali.
“Being really active makes eating the cookie all the more fun!”
Many are surprised to learn that oven master Connie McDonald, Levain co-owner and co-creator of one of the world’s great cookies, grew up in a sweets-free home. Connie, a dedicated triathelete, has always had a passion for cooking (particularly Italian). But she discovered her passion for baking only in 1993 after she gave up her career in Investment Banking to enroll at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School. Now, after more than a decade as a professional baker, she still enjoys baking bread that is as beautiful to look at as it is to taste. And she is having the time of her life!
French for Leavening
What’s in a name? Levain – A French term for a natural leavening agent traditionally consisting of flour, water and wild yeasts. Perhaps better known in the USA as a sourdough starter.
Before there was a Levain Bakery location, and before there were the famous cookies, Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes were making wholesale artisanal breads for restaurants in New York City. When it came time to actually name their bakery, the word “levain,” a French term for a natural starter seemed like a perfect fit. Little did we know that it would become the topic of many dinner table conversations and much debate about the origin and meaning!