Ontario Restaurant News
Ontario hospitality business newspaper
April 2000

Right Yeast, digestible bread

TORONTO- A baking revolution is taking place in Toronto and ShaSha Navazesh is its trailblazer.

The baker and owner of Shasha Bread Co. produces nutrient-rich sourdough bread which is now used by the restaurants such as Auberge du Pommier and The Rosewater Supper Club.

Sprouted and organic grains distinguishes his bread from others. The grains are soaked to release enzyme-rich food energy that cause kernels to sprout and produce more nutrients. Organic Dead Sea Salt, stone ground whole-wheat flour and filtered water are used to make the bread.

His work has caught the attention of the federal government. Navazesh was awarded $45,000 by the National Council of Canada to research ways to isolate and control the bacterial strains found in the three natural cultures he uses to bake his bread,

Commercial yeast, normally used in bread, has a fermentation time of two hours.

By controlling the strains of his own cultures, Navazesh stretches the fermentation period to anywhere from six to 18 hours. This makes his bread more digestibly and retains a higher vitamin, mineral and enzyme content.

Navazesh’s closely monitored bacteria are used to develop “sours” cultures, more commonly known as sourdough starters. These are used to ferment dough for loaves of wheat-free spelt and kamut, sprouted multigrain and organic sprouted Ezekiel bread. Customers with a yeast intolerance can enjoy the bread since commercial yeast is not used. The breads contains no preservatives such as calcium propionate or calcium phosphate, and neither does it have oil, sugar or artificial colours or flavours.

Navazesh developed a passion for sourdough and baking techniques after dropping out of microbiology studies in university and backpacking the world. During his travels to more than 26 countries, Navazesh tasted sours from Egypt, Russia and San Francisco,” I found the best bread is hand made in small villages, “ he says.

In 1996, Navazesh was a partner at Toronto’s DNA bakery, now closed.
He collected the sours he tasted during his travels when Shasha Bread was created in June 1998.

ShaSha pre-sells his bread to more than 150 retail customers, among them are the Four Seasons Hotel, Sutton Place, Pastis and The Big Carrot, all in Toronto. The bread sells for $3 to $5 a loaf. The Armenian Lavash flatbread and sesame rice sticks are less expensive since they do not use cultures,

Navazesh has little interest in expanding. The slick, wet and delicate nature of the dough prevents it from being processed by machine and working twice his 60-hours-per-week schedule does not appeal to him.

There are only five artisan bakers in Toronto and Navazesh says popularity for the bread is growing among the consumers who prefer health and organic food. For this reason, the dedicated baker is on a campaign to create an association for organic sourdough baking with the aid of the Food Industry Competitiveness Branch of the Ontario Government. “There has to be other bakers joining me. I can’t supply Toronto all by myself.”