By Ariane Fleischmann
“To me, putting cranberries in bread is like saying ‘baby, baby I love you’ in a song.” So says Mendi Yuda, co-owner of Two Bald Bakers in Port Coquitlam. To him, good bread is pure; he extracts and manipulates the grain to let it shine and get the best flavour. Nothing is there that isn’t necessary.
Opened in mid-2017, the bakery was a natural next step for Yuda and his partner Noam Dagan. Originally from Israel, the brother-in-laws now call Canada home. In 2012, Yuda moved to Calgary with his wife—a naturopath—where he worked in IT in the oil and gas industry. Chance, both fortunate and unfortunate, brought Yuda to bread-making.
First, during a visit to Israel, Dagan made some bread that just amazed Yuda, who had previously thought that you couldn’t make a good loaf at home. “When I got home, I googled it and I got into making bread,” says Yuda. “Within the first year, I got so into that it slowly took over my life; I got into sourdough, into ancient grains, and then I got into milling my own flour.” After that, bread-making became a serious hobby for Yuda. He was selling bread to friends over Facebook because he was making too much.
Next, Yuda was laid off along with many others in the oil and gas industry. Dagan and his family had recently moved from Israel to the Vancouver area, so Yuda decided to move closer to family. “We took the severance pay and used the opportunity to start Two Bald Bakers,” he says.
Dagan has a history as a chef and pastry chef. In Israel, he worked in fine dining and farm-to-table restaurants. “He was always drawn to baking,” says Yuda; “He was doing the desserts, was chef de partis, and doing the [dinner].”
Reunited in Port Coquitlam, Yuda and Dagan knew it was time to give the bakery a shot. Their philosophy combines Yuda’s love of the slow-food movement with Dagan’s farm-to-table background. They’re regulars at local farmers markets, buy local, and cultivate relationships with farmers: “anyone involved in the local, organic, slow-food movement,” says Yuda. At Two Bald Bakers, they source all the base ingredients locally whenever possible. Instagram has been a huge resource for them: “At least in food, you can be part of a hub of bakers worldwide,” says Yuda. “We get lots of advice and share advice. There’s a community; broad but local.”
They work with Fieldstone Organics in Armstrong for their grains and mill everything fresh. When Yuda wanted to make a seed loaf, he sourced local millet and flax. They also found a source for local oats and pumpkin seeds. Beyond that, the bakery only uses pink Himalayan or sea salt; they don’t use refined sugars, only dark brown or organic cane; and they source their fair-trade chocolate from Italy.
“The idea is to see how [ingredients] thread through from the farmers, to milling it, to making it all by hand and keeping it very simple and very clean,” says Yuda. “Keep the relationship of people going through food. Bring the identity back into food.”
Until they open a storefront, and with market season coming to a close, Two Bald Bakers is now focused on their cookies and selling wholesale. Baked fresh without preservatives, their cookies are available in select stores.
“[Two Bald Bakers] is my dream and passion,” says Yuda. “I gave up everything economically in my life. I work 90 hours a week so I can make bread for people; bread that I believe in, that people love at the markets.” There’s no going back to IT for this guy.
You can find Two Bald Bakers at these stores and more. Check twobaldbakers.ca for the latest wholesale locations: