Northfield, Vermont - April 22, 2011
Tucked away in an old Northfield factory hides a rising business, La Panciata Bakery.
"It's an Italian expression for being fat and happy," Glen Looati said.
Looati's bread making passion started on a whim almost 20 years ago.
"My wife used to get together with her friends on Tuesday night and I was home baking bread and one of them suggested selling them at the farmers market in Montpellier," Looati explained.
When winter came people still wanted his artisan breads, so he expanded first to co-ops and now to making thousands a day.
Reporter Gina Bullard: How many loaves do you make in a day?
Glen Looati: On Monday-- our busiest day-- around 5-6,000 loaves a day.
And that goes up to almost 8,000 a day in the summer months. Most are wholesaled to grocery stores around the state.
La Panciata's breads are a cut above the rest-- pre-cutting their loaves because, they say, sliced bread was invented for a reason.
"We all have our little secrets that make our products personal," Looati said. "I think that's why there are so many bakers in Vermont; everyone has their own little niche."
One niche they have is their honey and oat bread which stands out for many Vermonters. It helps feed more than half of all families with young children in Vermont as part of the WIC program-- a nutrition service for low-income Women, Infants, and Children. La Panciata puts out 11,000 half-loaves of WIC bread a year. But the honey oat recipe took a lot of tweaking. Most of their breads contain 30 percent whole grains but the WIC program requires a lot more.
"We ended up increasing the whole wheat flour and amount of oats, so we got the whole grain up to 75-80 percent," Looati explained.
Gina Bullard: Does it still taste good?
Glen Looati: It tastes very good. That was the tricky part. We could have just said we'll make you 100 percent whole wheat bread and there you go-- all kinds of fiber but not good to eat, it doesn't taste great.
The WIC bread is only 15 percent of La Panciata's business, yet they had to expand to handle the special order.
Looati said, "It's good for our business but it's nice knowing we're putting a good for you product out there and it helps out a lot of families."
Allowing the tradition of breaking bread to continue for all Vermont families.
Anyone can buy the WIC bread. You can find it at most grocery stores and the half-loaf goes for around $3.50.
Gina Bullard - WCAX News - Made in Vermont
PO Box 4508