A foodie group in the heart of California wine country has just inducted some bread bakers into the Baking Hall of Fame. If rustic, artisan, whole grain, trans-fat-free, probiotic loaves come to mind, think again. Think McDonald's buns.
John Paterakis, whose Northeast Foods bakes for the Golden Arches, was recognized for his contributions to commercial baking.
"He really helped pioneer the advancement of automated bun production," said Tom Kuk, president of the American Society of Baking in Sonoma. "Bakers like John would push the envelope with equipment manufacturers."
By demanding bread machines that were faster, more efficient and consistent, Paterakis helped make it possible for McDonald's customers everywhere to get their beef patties wrapped in that same, familiar, soft bun, Kuk said. In so doing, Kuk said, Paterakis "changed the face of American culture."
Of course, it could be argued that the change Paterakis wrought also helped supersize America, with lots of cheap, mass-produced, unhealthful food.
Kuk acknowledged the "growing appreciation for whole grains, the artisan look," but said that's a "whole different market niche" - one that commands significantly higher prices.
Anybody with the dough for that stuff can go to Whole Foods. Paterakis will cry all the way to the bank if they do so in Harbor East, where the everyman bread man is the high-end grocer's landlord.
Easy come, easy go
First came the organic produce. Then the energy-efficient light bulbs. And now this: Wal-Mart has severed its ties with Gerry Evans.
Just before the start of the current legislative session, Evans said, Wal-Mart hired and fired him within the course of two weeks. Did the world's biggest retailer drop the Annapolis lobbyist - convicted of fraud in 2000 - as part of its kinder, gentler makeover?
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Maggie Sans said not to read too much into the move.
"Gerry was one of a number of consultants," she said. "We're constantly re-evaluating what our business needs are."
Evans said he fell victim to a shake-up in the company's public affairs unit.
But he still has plenty of work, despite the O'Malley administration's pledge not to meet with lobbyists with significant rap sheets. The welcome mat is still out at the House and Senate, where Evans said he does "99 percent of my work."
"It's going great - having my best year ever," he said. "I've had no occasion to lobby the administration and don't plan to."
Still more Baltimore white guys
The list of famous white Baltimoreans, born between 1900 and 1950, keeps getting longer, thanks to readers who share my mission to set straight Frank Deford, who said there weren't any. (And Frank, it's nothing personal. Just want to give them all their due.)
Mike Golden harrumphed that I'd failed to mention his former boss, William Donald Schaefer (born 1921).
"The former Comptroller and Governor of Maryland gained considerable national - even international - attention when he served as Mayor of Baltimore from 1971-1986," Golden e-mailed me. "Esquire named him the best Mayor in the U.S. and the photo of his famous dip in the National Aquarium's seal pool was spotted in papers around the world."
Several readers said I should have included Baseball Hall of Famer Al Kaline (1934), who went straight from Southern High School (Class of '53) to a 22-year gig with the Detroit Tigers.
And my biggest oversight yet, noted by Richard Cross, former speechwriter for Bob Ehrlich: John Astin (1930), who put his Hopkins education to work playing Gomez Addams in The Addams Family.
"As a TV geek and Hopkins grad," Cross wrote, "I couldn't let him be omitted from the list."
Connect the dots -- get a ring
Rudolph Giuliani hopes to raise as much as $1 million at a fundraiser next week at the Chevy Chase home of Peter Terpeluk, the former ambassador to Luxembourg, The Hotline reports, crediting Politico. Giuliani's press office would confirm only that the former NYC mayor will be doing something in Chevy Chase March 22. ... Ken Harris said he was miffed that Mayor Sheila Dixon didn't invite him to an event last week to trumpet the creation of the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel scholarship fund. In 2005, Harris got then-Mayor Martin O'Malley to persuade Hilton officials to set up the fund as part of the hotel deal, according to press accounts at the time. "I called her press secretary. 'Hey, you guys know I did this?'" said Harris, who is running for council president. After his complaint, Harris said, he was belatedly invited. But he was ticked off again when he failed to get a mention in Dixon's two-page press release on the event. ... Scott Weiss, a 36-year-old assistant professor of computer science at Mount St. Mary's University, appears on today's Jeopardy! The show's publicity folks sent out his name and phone number, but didn't give him the green light to talk until after the show airs. "I can't tell you anything," he said. ... Readers are starting to take me for a full-time ring recovery service, but I'll do this one more time, and only because it's Arbutus. This time it's an Eastern Vo Tech ring, found 10 years ago in Arbutus, near Linden and Highview avenues. No name or initials, but it has the class year "1970" and the team name, "Mavericks." There's also a player number. If you know it, it's yours.