Baking & Snack - July 2018 - 43

Canyon Bakehouse

For Canyon Bakehouse, success isn't about riding the gluten-free
trend but giving bread back to the consumers who miss it.
by Joanie Spencer
It's true that you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
Just talk to Canyon Bakehouse co-founder Christi Skow,
whose 2007 celiac disease diagnosis was the catalyst for
starting the bakery. "I was diagnosed with celiac disease
in 2007, and at that time, the hardest part for me was cutting out bread. You don't realize what a staple bread is until
you're told you can't have it anymore," she said.
"It was a great discovery but also a shocking one," said
Josh Skow, Ms. Skow's husband and Canyon co-founder
and CEO. "It was great she could get healthy again but
shocking because eating bread was something we liked to
do. What do you do when something's a major part of your
life, and you can't have it anymore?"
At that time, gluten-free options were mostly relegated
to specialty stores and perhaps one shelf of a freezer section. "It was pretty dismal," Mr. Skow recalled.
But in 2008, the Skows reconnected with a friend and
veteran master baker who happened to be experimenting
with gluten-free breads out of his home kitchen. Mr. Skow,
an entrepreneur who had already started three successful
businesses, saw an opportunity and jumped on it. "This
was really good bread," he recalled. "We knew all about the
gluten-free lifestyle, and we knew people would buy this
bread, so I told him we should start a gluten-free bakery."
In 2009, Canyon Bakehouse began in Loveland, CO, in a
space about the size of a garage.

Taking it personally
Bread is hard to replicate without gluten, and that's apparent - often painfully so - to both the producer and enduser. When Canyon Bakehouse began, the company aimed

to not only treat the breadmaking process reverently but
also provide consumers with actual bread, not something
that felt like a second-rate substitute.
"Gluten-free bread is hard to make," Mr. Skow said. "I've
always viewed wheat as God's gift to mankind for making
bread. We've been doing that for thousands of years, and
now, we are trying to make bread without the key component. But gluten is a protein that celiac and people with gluten intolerance can't have. Our bakers and scientists have
done an unbelievable job working together to make bread
that's just what you would recall."
In fact, the company's tagline, "Love bread again," hints
to consumers that Canyon products bring them back to
their days of eating a beloved staple.
To produce gluten-free products that are high-quality,
clean label and whole grain, Canyon Bakehouse R&D looks
at a variety of grains and the ways they are processed. "We
also look at different stabilizing systems to help with eating
quality, texture and flavor that lead to the overall enjoyment
that comes with eating our products," said Jesse Weilert,
vice-president of technical services.
With the Skow family living a gluten-free lifestyle -
Ms. Skow and their 15-year-old son Caleb are both diagnosed celiac, but the whole family of five abstains from
gluten - the company has a personal understanding of its
consumers' needs. Because of this, Canyon has established
a following that's fiercely loyal to the brand. "People are really passionate about our breads," Ms. Skow noted. "They go
from not being able to have breads and other items they were
used to eating to having sandwiches again, and they're very
excited about that." The company sees people experiencing

Canyon Bakehouse
co-founder Christi Skow
(left) started Canyon
Bakehouse with her
husband, Josh, after
she was diagnosed with
celiac disease.
Photography by Nita Torrey / July 2018 Baking & Snack 43

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