The Bready Bunch: Salt Lake County assessor, wife enjoy the art of gifting hand-made loaves
Dec 10, 2019 03:47PM
● By Jennifer J Johnson
Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs and wife, Debbie, have made baking and gifting individual loaves for 100-plus SLCO employees an annual holiday tradition. (Kevin Jacobs)
By Jennifer J. Johnson
Last spring, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson introduced each of the “electeds”—or elected officials—comprising Salt Lake County Government to county residents attending the mayor’s cross-county tour.
When it came time to introduce Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs, the mayor’s description of a guy whose job of maintaining records on taxable property, curiously, made the mouth water.
Right alongside spewing details of Jacobs’s office being responsible for maintaining information on more than 300,000 properties covering more than 700 miles and a market value of more than $70 billion, Wilson gushed about Jacobs’s unique annual contribution to Salt Lake County.
Every December, Jacobs “aprons up” and methodically, artistically, leveraging his Riverton home’s three ovens, bakes individual loaves of bread for the 120-plus members of the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office, as well as the Mayor’s office and the Salt Lake County Council and their staff.
The beginnings of the baker
The tradition, like his bread, is homemade.
Jacobs grew up in Soda Springs, Idaho. From an early age, he developed his lifelong love of homemade bread.
Instead of eating dessert, even as a boy, Jacobs gravitated to bread, grabbing a slice as he excused himself from the dinner table.
As a young groom, he was asked by his new bride what he would like for breakfast, as they began their new life together. Jacobs was predictable in throwing down the gauntlet: “Make bread like my mom.”
Jacobs’s “sweetheart,” wife Debbie, did that and then some: Kevin Jacobs confides that his wife somehow managed to even one-up the bread he grew up with.
The Bready Bunch
Together, the couple found bread-making a life staple.
Not only would they joyously consume it, but they would bake loaves for their three sons’ little league baseball fundraisers, and then, in the boys’ later years at Riverton High School, they would lovingly prepare loaves for sale for wrestling and cross country team fundraisers.
Kevin Jacobs has worked in the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office for 30 years. In 2013, he assumed leadership of the office when the former assessor retired. Even before he headed the office, he and Debbie Jacobs shared their loaf-making love with the office.
About five years ago, Debbie Jacobs was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered from eating gluten, core to the very thing she loved to make: Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. It's what makes dough elastic and gives bread its chewy texture.
Kevin Jacobs’s baking mate turned to production-line supervisor. “She inspects every loaf,” he said.
Breaking bread with the office
“I always look forward to the holidays and Kevin’s fresh baked bread,” Wilson said.
“It’s my favorite time of the year,” adds Senior Policy Adviser Weston Clark, who describes Kevin Jacobs’s bread as “amazing.”
The adjectives about the bread seem to spread as sweet as the accompanying, homemade jam Jacobs also gifts.
“Legendary” is how Jacobs’s assistant, Corie Soderman, describes the annual gift. “We all wish we could bake like him. We love working for him; he sets the tone for a great office, and the bread just tops it off.”
Standing the delicious test of time—and gourmet scrutiny
“It’s a lot of fun,” Kevin Jacobs said.
That said, he admits to having felt pressure, the occasions he gifted the late Sam Granato, former Salt Lake County councilman and owner of a chain or Italian delis, with his loaves.
“It was,” after all, “Sam Granato,” he recalls, emphasizing Granato’s gourmet credentials with verbal inflection.
Kevin Jacobs’s bread passed the taste test with Granato, who complimented the baking-obsessed assessor.
Kevin Jacobs finds his biggest compliment is that office colleagues who are now familiar with the annual bread gifting are reluctant to bring their loaves home, preferring to enjoy them themselves at their office. Sneaking a bite, then, perhaps safeguarding their gifted bread in a desk drawer.
Kevin Jacobs not only bakes holiday bread and delivers homemade jam to the office, but he bakes the rolls for the county seasonal holiday party. So, Dec. 10 and 11 of this year may be time to buddy up with an employee of the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office—or just get to know the amiable Kevin Jacobs.