Marina Mayer, our managing editor, relishes in her first cover story experience while feasting on foccacia sandwiches, traditional naan and authentic Italian pizza crust with a glass of wine.

Thanksgiving in June

It’s not every day that I get to hop on a plane to fly out to Canada but to field my first cover story with SF&WB, that’s what I did.

    The interview was with FGF Brands, the Concord, Ont.-based makers of Tandoori Naan, stone-baked pizza crust, Italian-style focaccia and muffins. As I walked through the double-doors of the lobby, I immediately knew that this was where I was supposed to be. Greeted by the founders, Jim White and Sam Ajmera, with handshakes, a mug of hot tea and a tray full of crumb-less muffins (yes, their muffins produce zero crumbs), these guys already won me over before the interview even started. The fact that their smiles never left their faces didn’t hurt either.

    A short while after our roundtable discussions, ironically conducted at an actual round table, we ventured into the test kitchen where I was offered an entire marble countertop of food. Good thing I was wearing my Thanksgiving pants from the pie-eating days.

    Eating has definitely become part of my job description.

    We feasted on bruschetta on pizza crust, foccacia sandwiches stuffed with rich vegetables, pizza and homemade, mouth-watering dips. Yes, it was Thanksgiving in Canada…in June.

    Before everyone ate too much and needed to be rolled out of the kitchen, we conducted the photo shoot. As I’m watching the laptop with the images shuffling from one picture to the next, I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw Sam kissing the top of Jim’s bald head. Then out of the middle of nowhere, Jim began mimicking Sam in his best Indian accent. What a hoot! It’s uncanny how genuine, natural and authentic their relationship is.

    If only everyone could find a sibling in a friend.

    Then the real fun began. As the saying goes, somebody somewhere is enjoying Happy Hour. In our part of the world, it just happened to be at 11:30 a.m. As I’m sampling the platter of food before me, Sam walked over with two bottles of wine and a wine glass.

    “Enjoy the food with a nice glass of wine,” he said as he poured my share.

    Enjoy I did. I normally don’t drink wine unless it comes from a box but in this scenario, it actually wasn’t that taxing of a deal. It’s 11:30 in the morning on a Thursday and I was drinking wine. Ahhh… it brought me back to my college years where we had beer for breakfast, no justifications necessary.

    As the meal closed and Alison Jarvest, the corporate chef, cleared the tables, we ventured out into the bakery to actually see these products in production. This was my first walk-through of a plant. I was waiting to see Laverne and Shirley sitting in the production line, but instead I saw hard working employees actually hand-stretching the dough.

After strolling through the bakery, it was the end of the interview and I had managed to fill up an entire tape of quotes and 10 pages of notebook paper. Usually reporters worry about not having enough information for their story; I was grappling with the fact that I may have too much.

    I was shutting off my cassette recorder, when Sam turned to me and said, “We drink a little, we eat a little, we think a little, we work a little. Can we say Bon Appetit?”

    I was going to start the wave and say, yes we can.

    I’ve been told that fielding stories are usually not this fun but Jim and Sam expressed consistent enjoyment with their products, their plant and with each other. Their zest for life and food made the experience anything but boring. Maybe that’s the secret to the good life. Smiles and good food.

    Either way, like a first true love, this one was special.


Marina Mayer, managing editor