Rick and Tyes Cook opened their tiny Prince George’s County bakery, Manifest Bread (6208 Rhode Island Ave., Riverdale Park), in January, but they’ve already gained fast name recognition thanks to prominent placement on the menus of high-profile DC restaurants. You’ll find their crusty loaves at seafood-centric Bar Spero near Judiciary Square, the Brookland wine bar Primrose, and Petite Cerise, the Dabney team’s hot new French cafe/bistro in Shaw.
The high-school sweethearts from Woodbridge are veterans of the local dining scene. She was previously a manager at Georgetown’s Fiola Mare and Dupont Circle’s Obelisk, while he cooked at the late CityZen and the Cathedral Heights pizzeria 2 Amys. It was during his time at the latter restaurant that Rick bought a small mill and began experimenting with bread-baking at home.
At first, he gave loaves to friends for free. Then, in 2018, he began selling small batches on weekends at Cleveland Park’s Weygandt Wines. When the pandemic shut down restaurants, the Cooks were already ahead of the sourdough craze: They sold their loaves on Instagram and personally delivered them all over the area.
Now, at their storefront, the pair make their own flour from local whole, organic grains. They’re best known for sourdough, but the shop also features daily bread specials (deli rye, corny grits), plus bialys, biscuits, babka, and a case of other baked goods. For sandwich specials, Rick gets pigs from a Maryland farm and butchers them. The couple are working on more early-evening options, such as a caramelized-onion-andanchovy tart, to pair with wines in the snug space.
When Petite Cerise chef/owner Jeremiah Langhorne was looking for the best baguettes, he went straight to Manifest. But Rick came back with a condition: “He’s like, ‘Look, I don’t want to sell you bread if you’re going to be serving stale bread the next day,’ ” Langhorne recalls.
And so Petite Cerise gets not one but two deliveries of Manifest’s bread a day. Rick Cook compares it to adopting a rescue dog: “I kind of want to know what you’re going to do with the bread. We just want to have proper representation.”
This article appears in the May 2023 issue of Washingtonian.