Blog - Portofino Bakery
Portofino Bakery is a wholesale bakery. We offer a full line of breads and buns, as well as speciality items like pretzel buns, ciabatta, & artisan breads.
Portofino Bakery, bakery, victoria, bread, buns, artisan, wholesale, saanich, catering, kaiser, retail, local, keating, restaurant, catering
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The Market Stores have been bringing natural and organic products to Victorians since 1999 when the first store on Yates street open its doors.  Specializing in house made cakes, salads, and sandwiches these stores have built a reputation among customers to supply high quality products that are handmade.

Market on Yates

The Market Stores have two locations in the Victoria area; downtown on Yates Street and in Langford on Millstream road.  “We feed off of our customers passion for unique products” Douglas Bourque, Market on Yates Manager told us, “they are always willing to give us valuable feedback.”

The Market Stores passion for hand-made homecooked products has led them to create their own line Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls, which are sold exclusively at both stores.  They work hard to support local companies and source local ingredients.  The Stores also boast an high end bakery, creating everything from fancy tarts and pastries to decadent wedding cakes.

market on millstream

Portofino products are available at both markets stores in retail form as well as in the deli.  Both the Pretzel Kaiser and Brioche Bun are used daily in the Markets sandwich bar.  It’s in this same sandwich bar you can find specialty salads and grab and go items such as Spanakopita or Samosas.

Looking forward into the next year, the Yates Street store will undergo a renovation to support growing demand for locally made and produced items.  This has started already with updates to the outside parking lot.  Look for more from the Market Stores as they continue to grow and expand in the coming years!

Our Community: Michell’s Farm

This month we are highlighting Michell’s Farm, located just a stone’s throw away from our Bakery on the Saanich Peninsula at Island View Road.  The Michell Family has run this farm for over 150 years and is currently actively farming on 400 acres around the Peninsula.  This is something that the family takes a lot of pride in, the sixth generation is actively farming the fields, while the very young seventh generation is growing up.


The farm originally started out as a potato farm in the 1880’s, and has expanded their offerings to include over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables.  All of these can be found at their market where they sell farm grown produce, a small selection of locally produced grocery items including Portofino Breads and baked goods, and most recently their own beef.

About six years ago Michell’s started raising hormone and antibiotic free beef on the farm. These cows eat grass and grain that was grown next to their grazing fields.  You can often see these cows relaxing in the sun around the market!


Michell’s Farm is closely tied to Portofino by not only selling our bread in their market, but they actually grow wheat that we use to make bread with.  About 5 years ago Portofino was looking for a way to support the local farming community while creating a great product to sell to consumers.  Michell’s Farm is one of about 5 local farms that started growing wheat, which is then milled at Portofino and baked into one of two loaves: the Vancouver Island Harvest Pan Loaf, and the Vancouver Island Wholegrain Artisan (Both of these loaves can be purchased at Michell’s Farm).

This year Harvest Rd. open up beside the Market, which is a local food truck serving burgers, sandwiches, and breakfast buns. It’s a great place to grab a weekend lunch and take in the sights of the farm.

mural picture - harvest rd

This is the perfect time of year to check out Michell’s farm, they have tons of produce being harvested from the field daily, along with a giant pumpkin patch to really get you into the fall festivities!  Located right off the Lochside Trail this is a great destination on a bike ride, a weekend drive in the country.

2 local companies, 2 artisan crafts, 2 island grown grains: Introducing the Maltygrain Artisan Loaf

It all started as an idea, a ‘hey what if?’ statement, if you will, and today we are excited to announce the launch of a fun new product at Portofino Bakery.

We have partnered up with Phillips Brewery to bring to life the ‘Maltygrain Artisan loaf’, a loaf made of spent grains from the beer brewing process!

Wheat cutting - Aug. 4 Malt soaking

 Both Phillips and Portofino have a lot in common, both are locally owned, Victoria companies that support island farmers buy buying island grown grains. Phillips buys Barley, while Portofino buys wheat.  Both process the grains on-site and use them in their daily production. Because of the similarities in operations it is a natural fit to partner together to create one great product.


Spent Grains (or Mash) are the by-product of beer production, they are also high in fibre and iron.  At Portofino we took one look at the mash and thought ‘hmm, I bet that would make a great bread.’ A few experiments with different recipes later, and we landed on one great product- the Maltygrain Artisan.  Made with Vancouver Island Wheat this is a wholegrain loaf, with a unique flavour you can only get by adding mash!


Launching in stores this weekend, make sure to try a loaf today!

How to stop your sandwich from going soggy

It’s back to school time (dare we say it), it is the time of year where routines are foraged, academic goals made, and household routines are set.  Most of these routines involve food and squeezing in a quick meal between school, soccer practice, and homework.  Sandwiches have been a staple in this organized chaos for decades.

One of the main struggles of any sandwich is keeping it fresh and cool all day long, while not letting the bread get soggy.  While the thought of making a sandwich may come across as a simple task, a poorly built sandwich can ruin any meal and result in even the largest sandwich connoisseur turning their nose up.   Below are some tried and tested tips to make your sandwich last from early mornings in the classroom to afternoons courtside.

sandwich making

1) Start with the bottom piece of bread, and make cheese the first layer on your sandwich, it will act as a barrier between the sauce and the bread and prevent sogginess.


2) Next you want to add flavour with sauces. This is a great time to get creative with your sandwich, try different flavours such as chipotle mayo, sirracha, or guacamole.


3) Once the sauces have been applied, layer on the meat. Try a local option such as Roast Beef made from Red Barn Markets.  Make sure the meat touches all corners of the sandwich, the goal with a great sandwich is to have a bit of every ingredient in every bite!


4) After the meat, add the vegetables. Adding vegetables is great way to up the health benefits of your sandwich, pile moisture heavy vegetables on first, such as tomatoes, pickles, and cucumbers then move to your leafy greens.  Always make sure you have lettuce on top as it will also act as a barrier between the sandwich contents and the bread.


5) Finish off your sandwich with the final piece of bread and voila!





*If you find that your sandwich is still getting soggy throughout the day, you can also try spreading just butter on the bread.  This will act as another barrier preventing the sauces from getting to the bread.

Thrifty Foods is an iconic grocery store here on Vancouver Island.  They value community and have been a part of local events and causes since opening their first store in 1977.  We caught up with Thrifty Foods for a quick Q and A session and talked about what they are excited for in the future, community events, and of course bread!

How long have you been in operation?

We have been in business since 1977 – almost 40 years! In 2017 we are looking forward to celebrating our 40th birthday with our team and our customers.

How many locations do you have? And where are you located?

We grew from one Thrifty Foods in the Fairfield neighbourhood of Victoria in 1977 to 25 stores across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland today.

We have nine stores in Victoria, two stores in Courtenay, two stores in Nanaimo, and a store in Sidney, Mill Bay, Colwood, Duncan, Parksville, Campbell River, Salt Spring Island, Tsawwassen, Port Moody, Surrey, North Vancouver, and Maple Ridge.

Thriftys - group

What type of products do you sell?

We are a full-service grocery store, also offering a wide-variety of local, natural and organic products. Over the years we have become known and trusted by our customers for our fresh departments with Ocean Wise seafood, Premium Sterling Silver Beef, and the highest quality of produce we can get our hands on. We do our best to always pick BC first when choosing our products! We also offer a selection of ready-to-eat snacks and ready-to-pop-in-the-oven meals prepared fresh from our own Thrifty Kitchens in Saanichton, BC.

What is something unique to your business you are excited about?

Our Mission is to be Canada’s better food destination by helping Canadians Eat Better, Feel Better, and Do Better. This goes beyond just our product offering and recipes. We have an in-house Registered Dietitian who provides support to our customers and teams as well as a Sendial Volunteer Shopping Program, which provides a shopping and home delivery service for customers unable to shop in-store independently. We have our own Smile Card Fundraising Program as well that provides 5% back on the dollars loaded onto Smile Card Gift Cards to participating groups. To date, we have donated more than $6,000,000 to local schools, sports teams, charities, and no-profit organizations.

Thriftys group nutrition

What are you up to in 2016?

Earlier this year we re-launched our new integrated website and Online Grocery Shopping platform, which has lots of great new features to help make shopping, saving, cooking and eating healthy easier for our customers! We have some new pilot projects in our stores, including “The Pickle Sandwich Bar” in our Sidney location, “The Scoop Bulk Boutique” in our Broadmead and Admirals locations, and a Dry Aged Beef program also in our Broadmead location. These are just the start of the exciting product offerings our team is working on and we can’t wait to share with our customers.

2016 has been a busy year for our Community Team and stores! We have been involved in over 300 community events and initiatives so far and are looking forward to many more to come.

What is your favourite Portofino Product?

As our original roots are from Vancouver Island, we are a little biased and are huge fans of the Vancouver Island Harvest Bread loaf as it is made with wheat from the Island and milled right on site. Our Head Office is in Saanichton, so it’s pretty amazing to walk past the Portofino wheat field and know that it is being baked into bread at the Portofino bakery just a few blocks away and delivered to our stores fresh shortly afterwards. Now that’s local!

Thriftys community event

What do you love most about your customers?

We love our customers’ passion for food, community involvement, and high-level of standards they hold us to – they always keep us on our toes! They continuously support and encourage us to be as sustainable, locally-focused, and cutting-edge with product selection as we possibly can be and ensure our quality and standards are top-notch. They are strong community supporters and help us rally for any local causes. Many of them have been shopping with us since the day we first opened our doors, and feel like an extended part of the Thrifty Foods family!

Portofino products are sold at all Thrifty Foods on Vancouver Island, as well as Saltspring Island and Morgan Crossing the in the Lower Mainland.  To find out more about Thrifty Foods check out their website:

Hot off their two year birthday celebrations on June 28, Eat Fresh Market in Parksville is this month’s highlight in our commUNITY blog.

Located on the main drag in Parksville this market is a must stop shop for local food, friendly faces, and a fresh take on a traditional farm market.  They pride themselves on making everything from scratch, whether it’s marinades and sauces for their fresh cut meats, or pastries and desserts for the bakery counter, nothing comes out of a bucket! By hiring Red Seal Certified Chefs, Butchers, and Bakers the team at Eat Fresh have become product experts creating delicious options.  Eat Fresh carries a large line of local produce and meats highlighting farmers as close to parksville as possible. While Eat Fresh focus is on local suppliers and farmers they also have a large selection of specialty import products.

Eat Fresh Portofino Bakery

“Our Customers are so supportive,” Clayton from Eat Fresh told us, “It’s their feedback that determines the direction and evolution of our store.”  It is very obvious when walking into the store the sense of passion and community involvement that has gone into this market. Customers truly are the focus of everything Eat Fresh does.

eat fresh produce, Portofino Bakery

As they embark on their third year in business Eat Fresh is up to some big things.  A renovation to expand the deli counter and prepared meals section will enlarge the store to one and half times its current size! They also hinted that more locations are in the works (they are called Eat Fresh Markets after all!).

The next time you find yourself in Parksville make sure to stop by Eat Fresh, grab some snacks and head to the beach for a picnic!

If you have ever driven up Vancouver Island on your way to the West Coast chances are you have driven past the Old Country Market at Coombs.  What originally started as a road side fruit and hamburger stand in 1971 has grown to become a world-wide tourist attraction.  This eclectic market has something for everyone, selling everything from produce, pizza and ice cream, to worldly gifts, surf boards, and imported foods.

elcectic finds

The largest draw (and by far the most entertaining) are the employees that work on the roof of the Old Country Farm.  Willie, Daniel, Nibbles, and Minion are goats that live on and eat the grass from the building’s sod roof. The original market and sod roof started when Kristian Graaten and his wife, emigrated to Canada from Norway (where sod roofs were a regular occurrence) and decided to build one overtop of the market.  Legend has it that one night during the Coombs Fall fair they noticed the grass getting longer, a few glasses of wine later and they decided to put goats up there to eat it! They have been their ever since.


This roof not only acts as a source of food and habitat for the goats, it is also environmentally friendly.  The sod works as an insulator in the winter time keeping heat in, while promoting evaporation, keeping the building cool in the summer.

Coombs Country Market

Coombs is one of those places that is different every time you stop by, and this year is no different! Billy Gruff’s Creamery has just opened up and serves up some favourite warm weather treats and will soon be featuring their own homemade ice cream.

So the next time you find yourself in the Parksville area stop by and grab one of their famous OMC Burgers (on a fresh Portofino Bun) or an ice cream cone and let your senses run wild with the sights and sounds in Coombs at the Old Country Market.

‘Here, you’ll feel like family’ a statement deeply rooted in Country Grocer’s core values since opening their doors in 1984.  This local chain with 7 locations takes family to heart and works hard to welcome you into theirs. Country Grocer started as two independently owned stores in the mid- eighties before growing and joining forces to open the Island Independent Buying Group, an island based warehouse allowing Country Grocer to purchase in larger quantities, receiving buying discounts, and passing those discounts along to customers.

 bakery team

Country Grocer is heavily involved in their community where the stores act as a support network for local sports teams and non-profits.  Each store sponsors multiple sports teams throughout the year and together they support larger fundraising efforts.  This year you will see Country Grocer out and about in Vancouver Island’s Parade circuit, supporting various Multiple Sclerosis events, and of course hosting lots of in store events at their Lake Cowichan store surrounding Sun Fest in July.  The largest fundraising event Country Grocer supports is ‘The Cycle of Life Tour’ a 200km bike tour of Lower Vancouver Island raising funds for Vancouver Island Hospice Care.

esquimalt buccaneer days

Caring for more than just the community, Country Grocer is also working hard to reduce their carbon footprint. Grocery Stores are usually larger in space and require a lot of energy to operate (lighting, refrigeration, heating etc.) and Country Grocer is trying to reduce their energy usage with a new program at their Bowen Road location in Nanaimo.  By installing a new building management system Country Grocer has been able to take the heat from the refrigeration system and use it to heat warehouse and office spaces.  The building also has photo-electric sensors which adjust lighting in the building depending on the weather outside. This can all be controlled on-sight or remotely for maintenance and monitoring.

© HA Photography 2014

Country Grocer has carried Portofino Products since 2014, and carries a large line of Artisans and Buns along with staff favourites- the Peasant and Roasted Garlic and Cracked Pepper Artisan Loaves.

Located at the heart of the Blenkinsop Agricultural Valley the Root Cellar Village Green Grocer is all about bringing local produce to consumers.  Inspired by the owners childhood homes, where the root cellar was a place to gather and enjoy food grown on the farm.  Since opening their doors in 2008 this 8 person team has grown to over 90 people who hustle to bring fresh product and locally sourced products to the market place and create that Root Cellar feeling in all corners of the market. This full service market has all the amenities you need, including a full service deli and meat counter (The Chop Shop) and a boutique nursery (The Potting Shed).


‘Farm Fresh, Dirt Cheap’ is not only the theme for this team but a value they build into every aspect of the company.  The Root Cellar Keeps a weekly count of how many produce items are local, highlighting produce grown in the CRD and BC as well as an organic item count. By sourcing more local produce and products, the Root Cellar is tackling the food waste issue head on.  “By offering discounted items on our reduced waste carts, weekly donations to the Rainbow Kitchen, and providing discarded greens to farmers for livestock, less than 1% of the food we buy ends up in the compost” Ellen from the marketing team told us.

local count

The Root Cellar will be making some changes in the coming months, with the recent closing of the attached La Collina Café, this space is being converted into more retail space and a few other ‘surprises’, they told us. They currently are asking for input on what they should include in this space on their facebook page.

root loaf 2

As the Root Cellar works to source local products they continue to be a huge supporter of Portofino Bakery.  Their team of 90 people has many favourites including the Pretzel Kaiser Buns, Roasted Garlic and Cracked Pepper Artisan, and the Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie.  However overwhelmingly the majority enjoys the Root Loaf, a collaboration loaf between Root Cellar and Portofino that is filled with locally grown wheat, a hearty mix of grains and seeds, and sweetened with coconut sugar.  The Root Cellar is the only place in Victoria where you can pick up this delectable loaf.

Red Barn Markets are a shopping destination among many in the Victoria area.  With 5 locations spread out around the city, Red Barn Market’s are a great spot to stop in and grab some local produce or one of their ‘Tall as the Barn’ sandwiches, made on Portofino Bread.


Red Barn is unique in that they have their own on site smoke house where they produce a large line of pepperonis, hams, and infamous double smoked bacon! Located at the Vanalman Location this smoke house produces 90 different products.  Along with being sold in stores, these products are used in their sandwich bars and sold wholesale to a few restaurants around the city.


Coming out of winter hibernation this May is the BarnBQ, a BBQ style food cart, making its seasonal debut at the finish line of the Oak Bay ½ Marathon.  Serving up ‘Bun on the Runs’ for weary runners and spectators.  The BarnBQ is usually found at events around the city or at one of the Red Barn locations cooking hamburgers, hotdogs, and other lunch staples, all served on Portofino Buns!


This past month Red Barn Markets opened up their fifth location on Oak Bay Avenue, which boast similar features to other Red Barns.  However this one also has a coffee bar, fresh Kombucha growler fill station, and Ice cream bar.  With the success of this fifth location Red Barn is looking to expand and grow over the coming years, with some exciting news coming from Esquimalt in 2017!

Red Barn Oak Bay

This company is up to some big things and just like their customers Red Barn is passionate about focusing on local products.  Portofino products are sold at all Red Barns and are also used in their sandwich bars and BarnBQ food cart and Red Barns are the only place where you can pick up a Peninsula Peasant Loaf!