Ozery’s Pita Break President Guy Ozery is about to give you some of the best news you’ll hear all day: he insists going gluten-free is unnecessary for the average person, and treating yourself to a delectable breakfast bread or perfectly-dressed sandwich can be totally guilt-free in what is the bitter end of the Atkins Diet era. (But you’ll have to read on to find out more about all that.)
Guy, his father Al, and brother Alon may have started what they thought would be a modest bakery together 15 years ago when they opened Ozery’s Pita Break, but it’s now also a nationally-recognized brand distributed in select supermarkets across the country. The retail line’s calorie-conscious, high-nutrition products – from the newly launched Date & Chia Morning Rounds to fan favourites like the Light Rye Zero Low Low OneBun – live up to the brand philosophy that whole grains make the world a happier, healthier place. We caught up with Guy to find out more…
Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
My love of baked goods comes from my grandmother, who introduced me and my brothers to baking tasty, nutritious flatbreads that we’ve been exploring ever since. I joined my brother and father at Pita Break bakery in 2002, and my focus is primarily on the business aspect of the company and overseeing the company’s sales and operations. Today, we employ more than 250 bakers in a 90,000 square-foot facility. My goal is to continue to expand our product line and build the brand throughout North America. I’m very passionate about great food, and supporting local emerging restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have these days about breads and grains, thanks to the carb-fearing craze and Atkins Diet fads?
The biggest misconceptions would be the health benefits of gluten-free products vs. whole grains and seed products. While there is an important need for gluten-free products for people that either suffer from celiac disease or have some intolerance to gluten, the vast majority of people are not affected by it. When comparing the health benefits of both, you typically find that baked goods rich with whole grains and seeds are much more nutritious than gluten-free products.
Tell us about some of your health conscious products and what types of clients appreciate them the most?
We are very excited to have introduced the ZLL OneBun family. ZLL stands for Zero Added Sugar, and Low Fat and Low Sodium. All three are health concerns that have been the center of attention for quite some time in the media. Thus, individuals who are looking to lower their sodium, sugar, or fat intake love what this product has to offer.
What’s one of your favourite dishes to make using Ozery’s Pita Break products and how do you make it?
I know it’s simple, but I have it almost every morning: I’ll heat up either a Cranberry Orange or Muesli Morning Round, slice it in half, and then spread a touch of butter. That’s all – simple and delicious.
What are some of your most beloved products and recent additions to your product line?
That’s a tough one… It’s similar to asking which one of your kids you love most. On a regular basis, I consume the Morning Rounds as a quick breakfast alternative and the OneBun for sandwiches, especially at barbeques. We are working on a wonderful new innovative sandwich bun that will be very different from the OneBun style. I can’t say too much about it, but we are planning to launch the new product very soon!
What are a few of your favourite healthy living tips that you live by in general?
There are few basic sustainable principles that I feel support a healthy lifestyle: eat as many unprocessed foods as possible; try to consume natural products that are free of artificial and chemical preservatives; and everything should be done in moderation. I feel that there are too many extreme diets out there that are unsustainable and not healthy in the long run. Living a healthy lifestyle should be a way of life and not a passing fad. Last tip would be to always stay active. It could be a 15-minute daily walk for some or an Iron Man triathlon for others. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you stay active in a way that suits you.