Well and Good is at the forefront of the gluten free industry, continually innovating, creating and developing new products and recipes. We find out a little bit more about Sam Barak, the passionate force behind the brand.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a baker, I’m a chef, and I’m a pastry chef. I’ve been a production manager. I had a lot of experience. I started Michel Patisserie in Victoria; I was the first factory manager. I’ve been developing products for many companies.
Why did you start Well and Good?
We saw the future was going to be dairy-free and it was going to be nut-free. I said “no problem” and from then on we fulfilled most of the menu on the market. And now we have moved into a new range, which we call the vegan range.
Tell us a bit about Well and Good and what the company does.
I was actually the first person in Australia to develop what we call “the indulgent gluten-free”. The first time I went into the market, gluten-free food was like cardboard. I brought my experience into gluten-free to develop products into normal products.
Why did Well and Good, a gluten-free business, introduce this new range of plant-based products?
I saw an opportunity to develop the marketplace. I’m not a vegan myself, but I want to have a product that I can taste like normal meat.
It’s very high quality meat and it’s cheaper than normal meat. So the baker has the opportunity to create the vegan menu for his shop without buying the meat from someone else. He can make the meat fresh in his bakehouse. The cheese is the same thing. Why buy the vegan cheese when he can make the cheese by himself and cut costs and make money and have very high quality products?
We give the power to the baker to control his own destiny. To make products, to innovate products. That’s what it’s all about. I’m only in the background to give that product in high quality at an affordable price to the baker to create his own thing.
We need to bring innovation back into Australia. The point is, you go and buy vegan cheese coming from Greece, and the product is not accessible to the baker because it is very expensive. That’s why I do what I do. I don’t do it for the money, I do it for the love of it. This is my passion and what I enjoy.
The media is full of discussion about plant-based diet – Is this just a fad?
Being my age, you used to see kids with Coca-Cola. Now, they don’t walk in with Coca-Cola, they walk in with water. Today, you see the kids reading the label. The younger generation prefers to go vegan by choice. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing, growing beef which takes lots of water. We care about where we live. For example in my factory all the plastic is recycled; all the paper is recycled. I do my share because I live in the future.
If you could pick one of your plant-based products as a favourite, which would it be?
Look, It’s a very hard question. I have three plant products that I develop. I developed the cheese, and the meat, and the last product is the whipping cream. Which one is the best? All of them are my favourite!
Why would a traditional pie maker or foodservice operator want to add vegan options to their range if their business is already successful?
The best question you can ask! Let me tell you a story. I live in Melbourne, and one day I walked into the city, in the lanes where there are lots of restaurants. I love to go with my wife on Saturday morning and have breakfast outside. So I’m sitting with my wife outside, and a couple comes in and they ask, “do you have a gluten-free menu?” and the waitress said, “Yes, come in.”
I asked the waitress, “tell me something, do you have lots of people asking?” and she said, “Yes, before they used to walk away.”
And I thought about it and it’s necessary for a business to have it. There will come the day when people walk into your bakery and say, “do you have a vegan pie? Do you have a toasted cheese sandwich, vegan?”
This is the business. When you open a bakery, you don’t open a business, you open service to the customer. That is our duty. If you don’t offer that service they will walk away and go to someone else.