When a two-alarm blaze engulfed and gutted two-Michelin-starred Manresa restaurant last summer, head baker Avery Ruzicka had to scrounge for a place to bake. Chef-proprietor David Kinch’s phenomenally influential Los Gatos eatery was in the process of building out its first brick-and-mortar spin-off to sell artisan breads and pastries, but its opening was still months away.

Thankfully, the International Culinary Center opened its doors, as did several local restaurants. “We were driving flour back and forth in my little Volvo,” says Ruzicka, whose team of bakers had been selling their wares at farmers markets in Palo Alto and Campbell since 2013. “We were very much nomads.”

Finally in December, the 3,400-square-foot kitchen with a 19,000-pound Italian stove on University Avenue was up and running in time for its first official bake for New Year’s Eve at the newly renovated Manresa. Then, just this past weekend, Ruzicka celebrated the opening of the restaurant’s first retail space and her personal pièce de résistance, ManresaBread, a walk away from the bustling kitchen that stocks it.

The minimalist 800-square-foot storefront carries a seasonal selection of Ruzicka’s signature sweet or savory breads and pastries: chocolate brioche, a seedy brioche ham and Gouda bun, kale parmesan scones, caramelized apple buttermilk coffee cake, Manresa levain, red fife loaves, hazelnut brown butter cake, marzipan-filled almond croissants and buttery cinnamon-sugar “monkey bread,” to name some. Clerks hand-write the menu on an unfurled sheet of brown butcher paper—crossing off items as they sell out, which is quickly.

Ruzicka’s obsessive attention to technique and ingredients aligns with the philosophy behind Manresa restaurant, which was named one of America’s Top 50 restaurants by Gourmet magazine. The flour comes stone-milled from Camas Country Mill in Oregon, with a quality that allows for longer fermentation and richer flavors. Ingredients are seasonal—the chocolate orange brioche morphs to strawberry brioche as citrus season gives way to warmer months.

“One of the things that really inspires me about David [Kinch] is that, even though Manresa’s been open for 13 years now, he still comes into the kitchen with curiosity, he approaches it from an intellectual point of view,” Ruzicka says. “I relate to that, that’s how I look at baking. Bread is very much alive. It’s constantly changing. You have to be engaged with it.”

276 N. Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos. Hours: 7am-3pm Wednesday through Sunday.