“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:
When Steveston Bakery opened in 1989, the road wasn’t yet paved and there were barely any other businesses nearby.
Today, Steveston is one of Richmond’s most beloved and bustling neighbourhoods, with lots to see and eat for locals and tourists alike. And while the surroundings of Steveston Bakery have changed dramatically, husband-and-wife owners Hemant and Bimla Rao’s commitment to quality in their food and baked goods hasn’t budged one bit. The lineups that appear daily in their bakery are the best proof.
The shop is the kind of friendly neighbourhood place that every town dreams of. Since moving from Fiji to Canada in the early 80s, the couple has established a regular fan base for their bakery; in fact, some patrons have been visiting nearly every day since it opened (yes, it’s open seven days a week). Hemant jokes that some people call his bakery Steveston’s “second community centre.”
It’s no wonder. Every day, Hemant and his bakers serve up a dizzying assortment of goodies, all made fresh in the bakery. There are different flavours of muffins and scones, turnovers, cookies, buns, bread loaves, cheesecakes, croissants, bagels and much more. Customers can also enjoy all-day breakfast and lunch, with daily specials for each, and a vegetarian and a meat-based soup option every day. Like their baked goods, the Raos buy their groceries fresh daily and make all the food and soups, including the soup stock, in-house from scratch.
One of customers’ favourites is the sourdough bread loaf. If you go there on a Saturday, you can get it for just 99 cents – the same price it was when Steveston Bakery opened 28 years ago.
Don’t be intimidated by the lineup – service is friendly and speedy and it’s definitely worth the short wait.
Opening hours: 7 am-6 pm Monday to Saturday; 8 am-5 pm Sundays and holidays.