Roll of Honor
by Omnia Saed
Published July 6 in Baltimore Magazine
Excerpt: They call him “Carbo-Man,” a nickname that James “Jim” Hamlin proudly accepts. “I’m a carbohydrates guy,” he explains. “No, I don’t look like it because I’m 158 pounds and my BMI is exactly where it’s supposed to be, but I consume bread more than anything else.”
Hamlin consumes so much bread, in fact, that he decided to learn how to make some himself. He started by trying to replicate the golden dinner rolls his mother used to bake when he was a child. Spending hours in the kitchen of his neighborhood home without a recipe, he tinkered with ingredients and measurements to get the perfect batch. When he did, he knew he was onto something.
“He had his mother taste it,” says Brenda Hamlin, Jim’s wife of more than 50 years, who works with him at the bakery. “And I remember she looked at him and said, ‘These are good. These are better than mine.’”
The rolls quickly caught on. Hamlin, who grew up in a family of 10, soon began baking rolls on holidays and for gatherings. Rolls for his siblings, family friends, and extended family. Rolls for neighbors and friends of friends.
“It was getting out of hand,” says Brenda. “Especially after he retired, I would come home from work and I couldn’t find my dining room table. I couldn’t find my kitchen counter. I couldn’t find anything because there was bread all over the place. I said, ‘You need to find a place to do this, because I’m tired of not being able to find my house.’”