Kaslo Sourdough, a small-scale business with a strong presence throughout Vancouver and the lower mainland, stands as the sole commercial sourdough pasta manufacturer globally, alongside producing an assortment of delectable sourdough breads. They have been renowned for their nutrient-dense fermented dried pasta, crafted with the same sourdough culture since 1991. We spoke with Silvio Lettrari, the owner/operator of Kaslo Sourdough, to discuss this business more in-depth for our viewers.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Kaslo Sourdough Inc. We are the only commercial sourdough pasta manufacturer in the world, and also produce a variety of sourdough breads (available only in the West Kootenays).
What made you want to do this work and what problem did you want to solve with the business?
When I first got started in the 1990s, it was initially missing the amazing sourdough breads that I grew up with in Bavaria, Germany that compelled me to start my own bakery. Then about ten years ago, after a lengthy study of sourdough, I was able to invent our signature sourdough pasta with my daughter, Heidi. The guiding principle was that we had so many people saying that they had problems eating regular bread but were able to eat our sourdough breads. This observation initiated my thinking about applying an old technology (fermentation) to pasta – one of the only other products made exclusively from wheat. I believe that we cannot risk losing wheat as a mainstay of our existence on this planet. There simply is no replacement for this important grain. Fermentation helps make it easier to digest.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
We have a wonderfully diverse clientele. Families. Young folks. Those interested in healthier products. Kids. Pasta and bread lovers. Foodies.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
We produce our sourdough breads and pastas in Kaslo, BC. The bread is sold within our local region in the West Kootenays, and our sourdough pastas are sold North America-wide. We sell to grocery stores as well as health food stores within Canada. Our online shop ships throughout North America.
Where in the city can we find your profession?
All over! There are so many small-scale food processors across Vancouver.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
What’s the difference between a Kaslo Sourdough pasta and conventional pasta?
The difference is in the fermentation. We use a natural sourdough culture to ferment our pastas so they are easier to digest, taste better, and cook faster than unfermented pasta. We use the same bacterial culture in our pastas as we do in our sourdough breads.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
Food is so important. It’s culture and tradition and has this amazing ability to bring people together. In my company, we work with this idea of the power of good food in bringing food people together. I appreciate that not only do we get to enjoy our sourdough breads and pastas as finished products, but my wife and I have been able to grow the business to enable two of my children to support their families as well. It’s a real family business. I have innovated and travelled the road less taken all my life. It is not easy going upstream, but the rewards are much greater. I’m grateful that we’ve made it so far as a business.
The worst part? Wheat and other grain prices are determined on the global market. We have weathered a lot of ups and downs in commodity prices in the last few years, and that’s sometimes been difficult. We can’t change our prices as quickly as the commodity prices change. We prioritize high-quality ingredients, including grains from B.C. and the Prairies, and are not willing to compromise on that quality.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
I have a fermentation joke that I always used to pull out, but I had to stop because people soured on it…
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?
When we make it to Vancouver, Cartem’s Donuts! We love their approach to making donuts fresh from scratch every day, and their priority on quality. They are good donuts.