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Artisan breads and sassy donuts take over at Thrifty Foods Sidney

January 14, 2015

Victoria, B.C. - Thrifty Foods Sidney Store Manager Kurtis Francis, Bakery Department Manager Alan Foy, and Bakery Category Manager Meghan Parkhouse were in Sidney Wednesday to mix bread business with bakery pleasure. This gathering marked the opening of Thrifty Foods' second artisan bakery department - known as The Hearth - and the team had fun introducing both the wholesome and 'dark' side of their new bakery offering ... from artisan Smoked Applewood Cheddar Loaf to intemperate Maple Bacon and Dirty Berry donuts.

"If there is one thing that gets me out of bed faster than hot coffee, it's fresh bread," said Francis. "We've always had a hard-working team of bakers here, but this new space and these amazing recipes are changing everything about the experience for our customers, and for our own staff."

Thrifty Foods has re-opened their Sidney store bakery as the second artisan bakery department, following Admirals Walk last June, in a series of major renovations that promises to continue in 2015. Thrifty Foods plans to bring The Hearth to more stores on Vancouver Island in the near future, and may expand to stores on the Lower Mainland in years ahead.

"Our bakers are able to practice the full range of their skills at The Hearth," said Parkhouse. "And the more experienced bakers are passing on what they know to our junior bakers, so that the whole team is inspired and empowered to bring the customer something memorable. That's where the fun begins!"

The unique Thrifty Foods pre-ferment, or starter, nicknamed 'Oscar', is the base ingredient for all of their new artisan loaves - from springy sourdoughs to rustic Rye and Apricot Walnut, crackling ciabatta, and more. The Hearth Bakery also features a line of gourmet donuts made from scratch and baked fresh daily, piled high with outrageous quantities of fresh berries, dark chocolate, maple glaze, and - yes - bacon bits. Flavours range from Peanut Butter Banana to Salted Caramel, Cookie Monster, Candy Apple and M&M Lover.

Thrifty Foods bakery departments in all 26 stores also have options for customers with special ingredient requirements such as those required by gluten-free, low-sodium and high-fibre diets. They also carry a range of certified organic bakery items at each store.

Thrifty Foods ( was founded in 1977 in Victoria, BC. Today, Thrifty Foods, a banner of Sobeys Inc., has a total of 26 retail grocery stores across the Lower Mainland, throughout Vancouver Island and Saltspring Island.

About Sobeys Inc.

Proudly Canadian, with headquarters in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Sobeys has been serving the food shopping needs of Canadians for 107 years. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Company Limited (TSX:EMP.A), Sobeys owns or franchises more than 1,500 stores in all 10 provinces under retail banners that include Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, and Lawton's Drug Stores as well as more than 330 retail fuel locations. Sobeys and its franchise affiliates employ more than 124,000 people. The company's goal is to be widely recognized as the best food retailer and workplace environment in Canada. More information on Sobeys Inc. can be found at


About The Hearth
  • The Hearth is a new concept at Thrifty Foods, with in-house bakers preparing all breads from scratch, artisan style, created from a 'living' starter - Oscar.
  • You can get a snapshot of a typical day at work with Oscar by watching the short video, Meet "Oscar," here (on the Thrifty Foods YouTube channel).
  • The stone hearth oven in place at Thrifty Foods Sidney has three independent baking chambers, allowing each chamber to offer its own baking temperature and heat distribution, as well as self-contained steam injection - which creates the distinctive, artisan-style crusty outside to the bread. 
  • Thrifty Foods is the first grocery retailer in Canada to make and sell true artisan breads from scratch, in-store, using their own starter.
  • Bread bags will be signed by the Baker who baked that particular loaf, so each customer will know who personally made their bread.
About Thrifty Foods Artisan Breads
  • Artisan breads are defined as high quality, hand-crafted bread containing no artificial ingredients or preservatives.
  • Artisan breads are made from a pre-ferment or 'starter', Oscar, who was created by Thrifty Foods Red Seal Baker Seth Gustavson using a mixture of whole-grain flour and water. 
  • The combination of protein in the flour, the culture, air temperature, humidity and even elevation makes this starter unique. 
  • Each time that the Thrifty Foods Bakers make breads using Oscar, they use a portion of him, but never all of him. 
  • Artisan breads are best consumed within two days of purchase (and stored in a closed paper bag). Alternatively, you can freeze artisan loaves wrapped first in foil, then in plastic. For optimal flavour, consume within three weeks. To thaw, bring the bread to room temperature while still in the foil, then place in oven heated to 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. By warming it up this way, you'll bring that crispy crust right back to life!
Fun Facts

  • The Italian word for 'slipper' is ciabatta. It describes a long, wide loaf of bread with a soft interior and crisp crust - like the ciabatta Thrifty Foods Bakers create at The Hearth.
  • Oscar really does eat breakfast every morning, just like the rest of us! He 'eats' a top-up of flour and water, to compensate for the portion of himself used to create Thrifty Foods fresh, artisan breads.
  • The longer Oscar lives, the stronger the flavour and character of the dough.
  • It is possible that Oscar will become the longest-standing Thrifty Foods employee ever. He has quite a record to beat, though, given that we have several team members who have been with us since we first opened in 1977.


For more information, please contact: 

Erin Coulson
Manager, Communications
Thrifty Foods
Tel: (250) 483-1659 Cell: (250) 216-7007