The Magazine for Canadian Enterpreneurs
October 2000
By Rhea Seymour

Share and Share alike

Fortunes can be made from secret recipes: just ask Colonel Sanders. So why does Toronto baker Shaun “ShaSha “ Navazesh want to share his new formula for sourdough bread?

Navazesh was a 12-year-old in Iran when his grandmother passed on her ancient technique for baking organic bread. Last year, his Shasha Bread Co. began selling his ultra-healthy breads to health stores and four- star hotels. Sales hit $1-million last year, and should double this year.

A nice private little niche? Not for Navazesh. He wants to share his recipe, to encourage more bakers to make what he calls “ real bread”, and ultimately grow the market.

Currently, few bakeries produce bread like ShaSha’s. “Sourdough baking is tedious because you have to add the ‘sour’- the bacterial culture or fungi used to ferment dough-at exactly the right time and temperature,” says Navazesh. That means making the dough by hand, which limits ShaSha to 500 loaves a day.

Navazesh has spent $60,000 to research extending the fermentation of sourdough, making it healthier. Having identified a bacterial culture that does the job, he is now designing a machine to feed in the bacteria at just the right time. This way, he says, “a mid-sized bakery like mine could produce 3,000 to 4,000 loaves a day.”

Now Navazesh is working with the Ontario’s agriculture ministry to form Bakers Quality Alliance, so bakers can share supplies and info in the quest for better bread. “Right now, 50% of the market in Ontario belongs to me”, he says. If there were a bigger market, I could have 25% of it, and that would be a bigger chunk than I have now.”