從對女兒心疼的愛一路轉化成追尋對於食材純淨的堅持

從做貿易商到開烘焙店

 

到2012年1月,已歷經25年的貿易商,我的妻子Christina和我決定放棄做貿易商並開辦一家麵包店,製作和推廣素食麵包和蛋糕。

由於我們的女兒對牛奶過敏,我們受到啟發。每年生日那天我們會做一個圓形的無奶蛋糕,即使用不同的食物,並慶祝她的生日,因為她還很年輕,只要她在生日那天吹蠟燭,這對她來說沒問題。隨著年齡的增長,出現了更多的問題,為什麼她的蛋糕看起來與其他蛋糕不同,為什麼她不能在生日那天吃她朋友提供的蛋糕,這是激勵我的妻子和我開辦麵包店的原因。在不知道如何區分低筋,中筋和高筋麵粉的情況下,我們不知道如何製作麵包或蛋糕。在那段時間裡就我們所知,開一家100%無奶的素食麵包店和咖啡館,若在台灣台北是第一家(若在亞洲是第二家)。那時只有一個目標就是,如果我們的女兒不能吃一個無奶的素食生日蛋糕,台灣可能會有更多的孩子可能有相同或類似的問題,所以我們可以提供孩子和所有其他乳糖不耐症的人一個良好的素食主義者生日蛋糕(肯定以實惠的價格)

 

所以我們開始了無奶素食蛋糕和麵包的旅程。永無止境的工作令人難以置信的疲憊之旅。

 

“從做貿易商到烘焙”。

貿易商的辦公室的生活,通常每週5天從早上九點到晚上六點的工作時間,週六和周日放假,所有國家法定假日,在“不太忙”的季節你可以休息一兩天。每年年假休息15-21天,且在有空調的辦公室工作。

在烘焙店前面,一年365天(為業主)每天最少工作12到14個工作小時,一直站著,沒有休息,沒有舒適的空調,沒有什麼會比這個”更好”的了,我們所知道的生活不復存在。只有工作,工作和工作,用麵包不停地提起重金屬托盤,每天製作350個麵包。

 

沒有任何麵包業經驗的創業,意味著完全混亂和完全損失。大量的失敗品直接進入垃圾桶,是什麼讓我們的旅程更加艱難且阻礙我們的道路,而更多的障礙是我們堅持提供純素食,不使用任何氫化油,沒有棕櫚油,沒有雞蛋的替代品,沒有發泡劑,沒有烘烤粉,沒有人工色素,沒有人造香料,沒有洋蔥,沒有大蒜,沒有轉基因產品,沒有味精等。

100%純正的純素食,天然純正的食物。

 

台灣有兩組素食者

A組:他們認為洋蔥和大蒜不是素食主義者,但牛奶和雞蛋可以作為素食飲食。

B組:雞蛋不是素食主義者。可以食用牛奶,洋蔥和大蒜。

然而,在我們的商店,我們沒有牛奶,沒有雞蛋,沒有洋蔥,沒有大蒜,沒有酒精,沒有蜂蜜。因此,它為所有佛教團體提供了一個安全的地方,因為我們使用的所有食材他們都可以吃,並被認為是素食主義者。

 

感謝上帝、佛陀、Bhodisatva以及所有來到我們身邊救援的天使,引導我們渡過人類天使繼續前行,推廣素食麵包和甜點。

 

發生的第一個奇蹟是,在我們開業後不久,一位銷售最高品質(昂貴)的卵磷脂的推銷員走進我們的商店。林良義先生。經過與他的長時間討論和之後的兩次訪問,他向我介紹了他最老的朋友林大廚,他是烘焙行業知名公司的老闆,擁有40年烘焙麵包經驗的專業麵包師,他擁有多年麵包經驗,知道如何使用天然發酵的酵母和製作酸麵團,讓我們可以吃最健康的麵包。我無法支付林主任的任何費用來教我一對一的課程,而上課時間是從上午10點到下午6點。沒有人可以去定義這位主廚價值,他是一個超級成功的人並擁有他所想要的一切。然後奇蹟發生了,他說他自己是佛教徒並且理解我不惜任何代價製作素食麵包的承諾,所以他一對一地教我,如何從頭開始製作麵包,從天然發酵的酵母,到酸麵團,到不同種類的麵包,也幫我設定價格點。在那8個小時裡,我們從經驗豐富的廚師那裡學習第一手製作素食麵包。我們的麵包非常美味,健康,100%純素。

隨著歲月的流逝,更多的發泡劑被引入麵包,許多人得了胸部燒傷或胃部不適,但他們吃了同樣的東西,我從1988年5月開始在台灣台北工作,那時候的麵包過去是這樣的,至少從我以前購買的麵包店開始。

 

所以我們有一個很好的麵包配方,接下來可能是什麼?當然就是蛋糕。我們基本上有賣得很好的以巧克力和香草為基底的蛋糕,因為你可以想像成為第一個素食麵包店,我們的蛋糕受到純素團體和素食團體的讚賞。基本上蛋糕仍然沒有達到我所想要的期望值,因為我仍然覺得它可以變得更好。在我們得到一份我們可以引以為傲的配方之前,是花了數百個基底蛋糕和幾乎令人震驚的3年試驗。

今天,如果您嘗試我們的任何巧克力蛋糕系列,它可以與含奶蛋的蛋糕相比。我們的咖啡核桃蛋糕,草莓蛋糕和檸檬蛋糕都受到所有人的喜愛。蛋糕基底是濃密和濕潤,而不是海綿蛋糕基地。

 

第二個奇蹟

即使有了我們所擁有的最好的素食麵包和蛋糕,生存也變得艱難,因為我們沒有做任何促銷、廣告或任何讓人們知道我們存在的行銷宣傳。然後突然有一天,我們接到了來自佛教電視頻道人間衛視台的電話。接著第二天,我們接到另一個佛教電視頻道-大愛電視台的電話。在這兩個電視頻道的廣泛宣傳之後,我們一夕之間在佛教團體成名。客戶從城市的各個角落開始,來自不同城市的電話來電詢問是否可以外送或宅配,還有佛教僧侶前來購買並仔細檢查食物是否真的沒有牛奶和雞蛋等等。



在這4年的麵包店經營中,我受了幾次傷。有一次是我拿著60個麵包(2個盒裝),不小心在下大雨的時候摔倒,這對我的健康造成重大損傷,並且我的脊髓受傷非常嚴重。在那次事件後,我們決定關閉麵包店並開辦一家餐館。那是Vegan Taipei餐廳的開始。

Trading to Baking

 

In January 2012, after 25 years of trading, my wife Christina and myself decided to give up trading and start a bakery store front to make and promote vegan bread and cakes.

We were inspired to do so due to our daughters allergy to milk.  Every year on her birthday we would make a round shape if different foods and celebrate her birthday, as she was still very young and as long as she blew the candles on her birthday, it was okay for her.   As she grew older, more questions came up, why her cake looked different than the others, why she could not eat the cake offered by her friends on their birthdays. This is what inspired my wife and me to start a bakery. Without any knowledge of making bread or cake, without knowing how to differentiate between low gluten, mid gluten, and high gluten flour, we embarked on our journey to start the first 100% Vegan Bakery and Cafe in Taipei,Taiwan and 2nd in Asia as per information gathered at that point of time. Only one objective in mind, “if our daughter cannot eat a proper vegan birthday cake, there may be many more children in Taiwan who may have the same or similar issues, so we can provide the kids and all other lactose intolerance people a good vegan cake for their birthday (surely at an affordable price)

 

So started our journey for the vegan cakes and bread. An unimaginably tiring journey of never ending work.

 

“From Trading to Baking”.

Trading offices normally have a 9 ~ 6 working schedule 5 days a week, free on Saturdays and Sundays, all national holidays, and you can take a day or two off in the “not so busy” season. CNY holidays rests for 15-21 days and things like that. Working from a desk in an air condition office.

In a baking store front, working 365 days a year (for the owners) minimum 12 to 14 working hours a day, standing all the time, no rest, no comfort of Air-conditioning, nothing what so ever. Life as we knew ceased to exist. Only work, work and work.  Lifting the heavy metal trays with bread non stop making 350 breads a day.

 

A start up of a business without any experience means nothing but total mess and total loss. Batch after batch headed straight to the garbage bin. What made our journey even tougher with more obstacles to obstruct our path was that we insisted on offering pure Vegan food without using any hydrogenated oil, No Palm oil,  no Egg replacer, no fast rising agents, no baking Powder, no artificial colorings, no artificial flavoring, no onions, no Garlic, no GMO products, No MSG etc.

100% pure Vegan, natural, pure food.

 

In Taiwan there are 2 groups of vegetarians

  1. They believe Onions & Garlic are not Vegetarian, but Milk and eggs can be consumed as vegetarian diet.
  2. Eggs are not vegetarian. Milk, onion and Garlic can be consumed.

However in our store we had no milk, no egg,  no onion, no garlic, no alcohol, no honey. Hence it provided a safe place for all the Buddhist communities to eat as all the ingredients we used they could eat and were considered vegetarian/vegan.

 

Thank God, the Buddha’s,  Bhodisatva’s and all the heavenly Angels who came to our to come to our rescue, guiding us through human Angels to keep walking on our journey to promote Vegan bread and desserts.

 

The first miracle that happened was that not long after we opened, a salesman selling lecithin of the highest quality (expensive) walked in our store. Mr. Lin Liang Yi. After a long discussion with him and 2 more visits later, he introduced me to his oldest friend  Chef Lin, owner of a very big and reputed company in the baking industry, a professional baker with 40 years of baking bread experience, with old school techniques of naturally fermented yeast & Sour dough, the healthiest bread you could eat. I could not afford to pay Chef Lin any fee to teach me on a one to one class that also from 10 am to 6 pm. No one could, I mean how can you define to set a price for the master Chef who is a super successful person and has everything he desires. Then came the miracle, he said he himself is a Buddhist and understood my commitment to make vegan bread at any cost, so he taught me one to one, how to make the bread from scratch, from  naturally fermented yeast, to sour dough, to a different variety of breads and also help me set up the price points. In those 8 hours we got to learn first hand from an experienced chef to make vegan bread. And our bread was extremely delicious, healthy and 100% vegan.

I have been in this country from May of 1988 and in those days bread used to be made this way, at least from the bakery that I used to purchase. As years rolled by, more fast rising agents were introduced to the breads and many people get chest-burns or an upset stomach, but they ate it all the same.

So we had a great recipe for bread, what could be next? Cakes of course.  We had basic chocolate and Vanilla base cake recipe which of course sold very well as you can imagine  being the first vegan bakery and our cakes were appreciated by the Vegan community & Vegetarian community. The cake base still was not up to my high expectations as I still felt it could be made better. It took hundreds of base cakes and almost an astounding 3 years of trial before we arrived to a recipe that we could be proud of.

Today if you try any of our chocolate cake series, it could be compared to a non vegan cake. Our Coffee Walnut cake, Strawberry cake and Lemon cake are liked by one and all. Cake base are dense and moist and not Sponge cake base.

 

2nd Miracle

Even though with the best Vegan Bread and cake that we had, survival was getting tough as we did not do any promotions, advertising or anything to let people know of our existence. Then all of a sudden one fine day we received a phone call from a Buddhist TV channel, Jen Chien Wei Shih Thai. The next day we received another phone call from another Buddhist TV  channel, Ta Ai Tien Shih Thai. After the broad cast from these 2 TV channels we became famous in the Buddhist community overnight. Clients starting coming from all parts of the city, phone calls from different cities asking for shipments, Buddhist Monks coming to buy and double check that food was really free of milk and egg and things like that. This was the 2nd Miracle.




Injury

In these 4 years of running the bakery, I had several injuries. The one that took a big toll on my health was a massive fall during the rains where I had 60  breads (2 box loads) and injured my spinal cord really bad. So we decided to close the bakery and start up a restaurant after that incident. That was the start up of  Vegan Taipei