Summer Retreat 2019

Smoke Signals collaboration with Mosquito Supper Club

Photo by Ilana Freddye

Photo by Ilana Freddye

"A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one's accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes."

Wendell Berry

I first met Melissa Martin when she came to an apple pie workshop in my old space in Marshall, North Carolina. I learned she was in the area doing a pop up dinner. After class, she kindly invited me along. Before the meal was served she appeared from the kitchen and wove a tale for us about her place, her people and her food. I will never forget hearing her say that she wasn’t trying to push any trends, but rather set out to skillfully make the food her grandmother and mother made before her. These words gave me permission to find my own voice in baking, cementing a deep friendship of mutual respect.

This summer we invite you to join us in the spirit of lifelong learning at the foot of Pine Mountain. Our week-long retreat will enrich your knowledge, comfort and experience in the kitchen and get you out outside to explore the tenacity that is an Appalachian summer.

Over the course of the week Melissa will teach two afternoon courses in Cajun cooking and I will teach three baking session focusing on the science and rhythms behind a simple sourdough, a grit bread, and an Acadian miche. We will have an evening of live music by local old-time musician Kevin Howard, a film night and sunset bourbon tasting led by Kristin Smith of Faulkner Bent Farm.

Retreat Dates

July 22nd- July 26th

July 29th-August 2nd

Come join us this summer for a baking and cooking retreat deep in the heart of Appalachia!

Pine Mountain Settlement School

Pine Mountain Settlement School is the beautiful backdrop to our culinary adventures. The 800 acre campus is a National Historical Site and has been a school, in various forms, since 1913. I first came to Pine Mountain in 2016 and was moved by the remote location and wild beauty.

In their own words: “Travel back in time with us, to a beautiful mountain valley at the convergence of three streams. Here, in 1913, visionary local leaders and pioneering educators conceived of a school "for the children of the Kentucky mountains." The desire was to transform the mountain community through education by infusing folk tradition with innovative teaching pedagogy. Over the years, the school has changed form. Today, we function as a community non-profit that still uses mountain tradition to address our current problems, although now we provide programming for visitors and school groups as well as community members."

The school is located in a rural area and the roads leading to and from the campus are filled with stunning views, hairpin turns and steep climbs. You do not need a special car or truck to find your way, but you may loose cell service and are advised to arrive before dark.


Noon to 6 P.M. Settle in and stroll the campus

6 P.M. Dinner and opening games


7:30 A.M.-8:30 A.M Breakfast 

9 A.M-12:30 P.M. Mixing simples sourdough & grit bread session w/ Tara

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M Lunch

2 P.M. -5:30 P.M. Afternoon cooking lesson w/ Melissa

6 P.M. Dinner

Pickled Shrimp & Crusty Bread

Oven Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

An Ode to Parsley

Oven Roasted Whole Fish

Seasonal Sorbet

7 P.M. Old time music with Kevin Howard


7:30 A.M- 8:30 A.M Breakfast

9 A.M.-12:30 P.M Baking simple sourdough & grit bread and mixing miche session w/ Tara

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Lunch

2 P.M.-5:00 FREE TIME

5 P.M. Pizza party!

7 P.M. Film night - TBA


7:30 A.M-8:30 P.M Breakfast

9 A.M.-12:30 P.M Baking miche w/ Tara

12:30 P.M. - 1:30 P.M Lunch

2 P.M- 5:30 P.M. Afternoon cooking lesson w/ Melissa

6 P.M. Dinner

Lagniappe Rolls

Shrimp Boulettes

Shrimp, Okra & Crab Gumbo

Crab Cakes

Blackberry Dumplings & Pop Rouge Ice Cream

7 P.M. Bourbon Tasting with Kristin Smith


7:30 A.M. to 8:30 A.M. Breakfast

9 A.M. to Noon Pack up and final stroll around the grounds

Baking Lesson Material

  • Wheat 101

  • Bakers math 101

  • How to make a grit bread

  • How to make a simple soudough

  • How to make a miche bread

  • How to write your own bread formula

  • Flour characteristics and qualities

  • Bread mixing by hand

  • Gluten development

  • Shaping techniques

  • Proofing sourdough bread

  • Wood fired oven management

  • Live fire baking

  • How to keep a sourdough starter

  • Scoring bread


  • All meals will be served in the kitchen of Far House

  • Breakfast 7:30 A.M. to 8:30 A.M.

  • Lunch 12:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.

  • Dinner 6 P.M. to 7 P.M.

Please notify us of any food allergies or concerns. This week will include gluten, nuts, dairy and shellfish.

Let us know if you are vegetarian or vegan. Note there will be meat being cooked in Far House.

If you have favorite wines, treats or other foods please shop ahead and bring them with you.


As a retreat participant you will be staying with fellow bakers in Laurel House or Far House. These are two out of the twenty six classic buildings on the Pine Mountain campus.

Far House has a shared kitchen, living room, laundry and wifi. If you stay in Far House we will be using your kitchen for lessons and meals. If you need quiet time, Laurel House will better suit you.

Laurel House has lodging on the main floor, bellow the dining hall and meeting lodge. Laurel House rooms are private and come with wifi and shared bathrooms. Laurel House is in a central location on campus.

Note these building are historical and have been diligently kept up, but be aware you might cross your occasional, spider, critter or other wildlife. It’s all part of the adventure!

Our Spaces

All baking sessions will be held at the Plant Center and all culinary lessons and meal prep will be held in the kitchen of Far House. We will be walking daily between Far House, Laurel House and the Plant Center. Although roads and trails are maintained by the school, we do advise you to bring good walking shoes and some kind of rain boot. There will be a good deal of walking over our week together.

We encourage you, in your time between sessions, to wander the campus, hike one of it’s many trails, visit the garden and find a stream to follow.


You are more than welcome to travel to Pine Mountain in a vehicle. Parking will be provided.

The airport closest to Pine Mountain is the Tri Cities airport in Blountville, Tennesse. It has several flights per day coming in from Charlotte and Atlanta.

We are happy to provide a shuttle from the airport to the campus upon request for an additional charge. It’s a 2.5 hour ride. The cost of the shuttle will be split amongst those using it. You may pay upon arrival.

Take Away

  • An autographed copy of A Baker’s Year

  • A custom Smoke Signals t-shirt, tote bag and patch

  • 3 various loaves of sourdough, wood fired bread

  • A baking booklet of our formulas and tricks

  • A few new friends

Melissa Martin

Mosquito Supper Club, New Orleans, LA

Mosquito Supper Club is rooted in one place: a tiny silver of solid ground, a low, flat land being swallowed by the water that is its life, but will also be its death, a home Melissa Martin returns to every Sunday she’s able to have a meal made by her mothers’s and aunts’ hands. Holding on to it all the only way she knows how is her driving force. “you can dwell on the negative or you can turn it around and shine a light on what is beautiful, what is left, and illuminate and save that. That’s what I’m trying to do.”


Tara Jensen

Smoke Signals, Planet Earth

Jensen runs Smoke Signals, a wood fired, mobile baking school. She likes pizza and dogs and prays for world peace everyday. Bread is her method and her medium for making a meaningful life.

Photo by Ilana Freddye

Photo by Ilana Freddye

Cost Includes

  • Room and board from Monday at Noon to Friday at Noon

  • Three meals per day + coffee + tea + alcohol

  • Any equipment, ingredients or materials for our lessons is also included in the cost


Limited to 8 participants.

You must be 21 or over to attend.

We will be standing during baking sessions. Chairs may be provided as needed.

We will be baking outside in all kinds of weather so please bring appropriate clothing.

In the event that Smoke Signals cancels the retreat we will attempt to provide you with registration in another retreat within a reasonable period of time.  If we cannot we will make a full refund to you.

Registration is non refundable. Should you be unable to make it you may send a friend or family member in your place.

We cannot issue any refunds due to weather related travel delays.

We ask that you plan on attending the entire time, no partial days or session are available.

Please inform us well in advance of any allergies or health conditions that we should know about.