Indiana’s Top Chefs featuring Judy Sexton at the Bread Basket Café

DANVILLE – The temptation is to eat pie first. Don’t. It might spoil a delightful breakfast or lunch at Judy Sexton’s Bread Basket Café in Danville. This bright, cheery, homey setting just off Main Street is the perfect backdrop for the bright, cheery, homey Sexton and her crew. Turns out she’d been preparing for this her entire life, but she wouldn’t acknowledge it. For years. As the eldest of five kids, she often cooked for her younger siblings. Her parents divorced when she was 12 “and Mom had to go to work,” she says. Later, she worked in her father’s restaurant. And she raised three children of her own.

She was about 50 when she realized she no longer had a child to take care of. “So I prayed about it. I said, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?’” She says the answer was clear. He even gave her the name: “Bread Basket.”

“The hardest part was telling my family,” she says. “They thought I was crazy.”

But in June 2005 she opened a small restaurant in Coatesville. When the economy fell, the business took a dive, “and we were dying out there.” So she brought baked goods to the Danville farmers market, which helped. In 2009 she opened a satellite site in Danville, selling baked goods. And people started telling her they needed food. They said they needed lunch. Sexton opened the Danville restaurant in October 2011 and closed the other two places. But she has added the Avon farmers market. “We are a family business,” she says. “If I didn’t have my family behind me – and wonderful employees – it couldn’t happen.”

bread-basket-peach-salad

Her Bread Basket is open for breakfast and lunch, and a whole lot of people stop by for baked goods. Fresh, local foods are featured throughout the year. Fall favorites include apple dumplings; harvest moon pie with apples, cranberries and apricots; and anything pumpkin – soups, pies, cakes, breads.

In early December she’ll host an evening open house with samplings of appetizers and sweets. “If I can get food in your mouth, I have your attention,” she says. But Sexton just can’t seem to call herself a chef. Years ago, she says, a restauranteur asked if she knew the difference between a chef and a cook. She suggested education, then the money chefs make. He shook his head. The difference, he told her, is that a cook does dishes.

“So I’m a cook,” Sexton says.

Bread Basket Café and Bakery
46 S. Tennessee St. • Danville
(317) 718-4800 • breadbasketcafe.com