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Dan Gildor spent his 20s in technology and the next two decades in environmental law. Since last year, he has been the owner of Marina Bay Bakery, a bread operation he runs out of his home in Richmond.
J: You’re on your third career now in your early 50s.
Dan Gildor: I’ve always believed that the happiest people are those that are doing what they have a passion for. The more I spoke with people, the baking thing kept bubbling back up. Other entrepreneurs encouraged me to go for it, that you only have regrets afterward if you don’t do it, so I dove in.
Your love of bread goes back to childhood. What’s the story there?
We were living in Israel. My family used to get rolls straight out of the oven delivered to us by moped. They were these long rolls, and we’d cut them open and put butter and jam on them and it was, like, the best thing.
Your parents were immigrants to Israel and left when you were still a child. What happened?
I was born there. We emigrated to the U.S. shortly after the Yom Kippur War scared the living daylights out of us in 1973.
Can you describe the kinds of breads you make?
Our signature loaf has notes of molasses, cinnamon and hazelnut, while our summit loaf is more of a classic whole-wheat sourdough. In our online shop there is also a rye sourdough option and a walnut-raisin loaf and whole-wheat pita bread and gluten-free bread, too. We also sell scones that are gluten-free and vegan so everyone can eat them. Our one orange-cranberry scone serves all three segments of the market. With those we’re trying to cover as many people as we can.
Is there anything distinct about your products?
I make 100 percent whole-wheat breads, using heritage varieties of locally grown wheat as well as a sourdough starter. Just like terroir with wine, you can shape the flavors of bread from where you get your source material. There are so many wheat varieties that people don’t know about. My breads showcase the flavors of identity-preserved wheat.
Why do you make both whole-wheat and gluten-free bread?
My wife is gluten-free and we’ve experienced so many events where there are no options for her. My gluten-free sourdough bread is also vegan, and is made mostly with sorghum, millet and brown rice flours, and there is also an option without potato starch since some have potato allergies, too.
You sell your loaves at farmers markets in Richmond, Orinda and Corte Madera, and you deliver from your website. Why this route?
Baked goods fall into a category of foods that are not likely to be easily contaminated. I have a class A permit, which allows me to sell my breads directly to consumers at farmers markets or by delivery only, since they are baked in my home.
Where do you hope to take this business?
I want to build out a whole portfolio featuring different wheat varieties that have different flavors. I just want to bake things at the level and quality I’d be happy eating. I’d love to eventually open a café, where mostly sandwiches will be on the menu. It will all relate to bread somehow.