The history of Three Bakers starts more like a love story than a bakery story. What grew from a small family bakery in Scranton, Pennsylvania was not only a passion for baking, but the love of two people. Dan and Jane Trygar are at the center of the Three Bakers story. Find out how they have continued to deliver quality, healthy and great-tasting gluten-free products, in this interview with Dan.
An Interview with Three Bakers’ Dan Trygar
On his first baking job… and falling in love:
I actually went to college for commercial design/illustrating. But, God had a bigger plan. During school, I was working at a local restaurant that received a regular bread delivery. Little did I know at the time, the delivering baker would eventually be my employer (he offered me a job in his bakery) and future father-in-law. Not only did I work for his family bakery for the next 18 years, I fell in love with and married his daughter, Jane. We now have a beautiful family with four amazing kids and a bakery of our own.
On how he became interested in gluten free baking:
I became interested in gluten-free baking after my wife Jane, who had a lifelong love of the delicious breads and pastries from her family’s bakery, developed celiac disease in 2002. She was heartbroken about no longer being able to tolerate the foods she had loved for so long.
I also remember there was one woman who asked for gluten-free bread at the bakery. I chuckled and said there’s no such thing! All of my baking experience had been with wheat, so I basically thought her request was a mistake. But then when I found out Jane had celiac disease, which required gluten-free recipes, I wanted to track that lady down and apologize, and I did just that.
Jane and I then searched for gluten-free baked goods that she could eat. What we found was that there weren’t very many gluten-free breads, rolls or pizzas, and those that we did find had terrible taste, texture and were loaded up with sugar. Between Jane’s diagnosis, that customer who also wanted gluten-free breads, and the lack of healthy, gluten-free products at that time, it made me think that there must be lot of other people out there who may be seeking gluten-free alternatives as well. I knew then and there I had to create baked goods that were not only gluten-free, but tasty and good for you too.
There were no chefs cooking gluten-free or gluten-free baking books on the market at that time. And, even with my food background, I was unsuccessful at first. But, I fully embraced the challenge and kept at it. I researched all the information I could find about gluten-free flours and how they worked together. I experimented with alternative binders to make sure the dough was not crumbly and dry. I had many, many failed attempts but I finally found a magical combination for a great pizza crust. Not only did Jane love it, so did our four kids. I built upon my knowledge from that experience to create additional, great-tasting breads, stuffing mix, snacks and, and of course, more pizzas.
On the challenges of baking gluten free:
The challenge of baking gluten-free is trying to make all flours that have no gluten to act the same as gluten-filled grains. Gluten is the key ingredient that allows traditional breads and cakes to bake up fluffy and moist. Creating gluten-free breads is like trying to make a chicken act like a cow. It really doesn’t work that well. However, once we discovered the right combinations of flours, we made really good breads, buns and pizzas. However, I’m never satisfied and over the years I continued to perfect my formulas and now we receive consumer letters thanking us for making breads so good that their non-celiac family members prefer them! That makes all of us proud that we’re making products that people want to eat rather than have to eat.
On keeping up with emerging health trends:
Keeping up with emerging health trends is very important to me. I stay up-to-date by subscribing to trade magazines, by watching FDA and USDA reports as far as how they are educating the public and by paying attention to research on consumer trends in the grocery stores. I also ask our USDA inspector about what trends are coming up when he visits our facilities each week.
For example, a little while back it was discovered that Omega-3 fatty acids offer a wide range of health benefits, including a lower risk of coronary heart disease and improvement in cholesterol. Seeds are a great source of Omega-3s. After a lot of formulation work to get great taste, we created two new breads varieties, Great Seed and MaxOmega. They’re made with really healthy whole seeds, which are naturally high in Omega 3 ALA and add great flavor.
On adding new products:
Just this year we have launched our first new category in a long time, Snackers. Prior to Three Bakers we sold similar shelf-stable snacks under our original name, Grainless Baker, and they were really popular with consumers. We didn’t launch them from the start of Three Bakers because we’re a small company and we had to be focused to succeed. The good memories of our original snacks stayed strong with consumers, so much so that even after several years of people asking for them either by calling the plant, writing in or posting on Facebook, we knew we had launch them eventually. And, we’re happy to say that time is now.
As part of our ongoing research, we discovered most of the gluten-free cookies and crackers are very high in sugars, fat and calories. Because we’re committed to being great tasting and good for you, I was able to craft four very delicious flavor varieties that come in at about 100 calories and are lower in sugars, fat and salt than comparable products. Needless to say, we are very excited to bring these gluten-free snacks to market again!
The entire team including Jane and I are passionate about our mission to deliver great-tasting, good for you products that are gluten-free, too.
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