Ghadi Aouad, a 27-year-old Lebanese-Brazilian hotelier-turned-baker and entrepreneur, successfully launched Masa (con mi) Madre, his bread concept, a couple of years ago. Here, he talks about his journey and what he’s planning in 2023.
How did it all start?
I started Masa Madre by pure accident from my home kitchen in 2020. Initially, the plan was for me to go back to South America before commencing my Grand Diplôme at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, but the pandemic changed everything, and I found myself baking at home to pass the time. What began as a hobby quickly turned into much more. Demand for my bread grew at such speed that I turned my home storage into a kitchen and gradually hired staff. By September, I was fully operational from home. In a few months, Masa Madre started supplying bread to some of the biggest names and businesses in the country. That’s when I decided to pursue baking and fully embrace this journey.
What sets your brand apart from others?
The culinary, artistic and business aspects of my bakery help make it a success. Each and every one of our products has a strong identity. Our unapologetic approach has helped us connect with people and businesses.
The unprecedented curation and use of ingredients from all corners of the world help us stand out. For example, I have made recipes with sea fennel and Lebanese juniper berries, ishpingo flowers from the Ecuadorian Amazon, Gochujang from South Korea, as well as cocoa beans from Ecuador and Colombia.
I believe my conservative approach to business expansion put Masa in that sweet spot where it was able to grow organically and steadily during the economic crisis.
How would you describe the market response to your products?
By focusing solely on production for the first couple of years, I created a product that carved out a niche market with close to zero sales-related efforts from my end. The positive feedback has been the most rewarding part and has pushed me to expand further. We recently moved our operation and team of 15 to a new space, almost six times the size of our previous one. This has allowed us to boost production and grow the product range.
For the moment, Masa Madre operates on a pre-order basis at a ghost kitchen, offering curbside pickups and supplying bread to certain restaurants and POS. However, I am currently working on opening an unusual bakery with foods and curated products largely from Ecuador and Colombia.
What are the top bread and bakery trends to watch in 2023?
I feel like anything Instagrammable sells these days, which also extends to baked goods. A cool and satisfying reel of a loaf being sliced or a video of a cubic croissant grabs people’s attention.
As for baking trends, I believe that the current demand for naturally fermented bread stems from intolerance issues and greater awareness of the benefits of consuming naturally leavened baked goods.
My goal is to make sourdough bread accessible to everyone and assist consumers, as well as businesses, transition to naturally fermented bread.