Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Unique grains institute celebrates milestone

  • Print

The mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked bagels was overwhelming as a small group of visitors entered the baking technology centre at the Canadian International Grains Institute in Winnipeg this week.

The man at its hub was quick to point out the trays of round, lightly browned pastries coming out of the ovens were "real bagels."

"Not something that's shaped like a bagel like you find at (name of popular coffee chain)," Tony Tweed said with the authority of someone who has spent a lifetime researching the subject.

At 70, CIGI's iconic head baker is as passionate as ever about what it takes to make high-quality bread products, and how Canadian-grown ingredients can help make that happen.

He should know. The British-born and -trained craft baker was hired to set up CIGI's baking technology centre when the institute was formed in 1972.

He's spent the past 40 years working with customers on the technical aspects of products, travelling to dozens of countries as well as helping teach the 38,000 or so participants in the more than 1,400 technical courses CIGI has offered.

CIGI's staff has grown to 35, a group that collectively can boast some of the world's best technical expertise when it comes to understanding the finer points of milling, baking and processing quality.

Tweed was familiar with the high quality of Canadian bread wheats long before he was recruited in the mid-1960s to establish Canada's first commercial baking school at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

"I worked with a lot of Canadian wheat flour in England. Everybody knew that if you were making good biscuits, you used Australian flour, and if you wanted to make good bread, you used Canadian flour," he said.

But what he learned about upon his arrival at CIGI, and what he has conveyed to customers ever since, is the infrastructure that is behind that quality -- everything from variety registration to farm practices to clean handling and quality segregation systems to a skilled team of troubleshooters that helps processors sort out technical glitches.

"There are still the customers who tell us there are two problems with Canadian wheat," he says. "The moisture content is too high, and it's too expensive. But they want it."

He now has colleagues within the organization who are equally expert when it comes to noodle-making ingredients and processes, Asian steam breads and processing pulse crops into food ingredients.

"You are really selling Canadian grain, but you are also selling Canada -- clean air, fresh water, nice people, and the systems are honest here," Tweed said. "It is a very unique place to work. Where else do you get to meet people from all these different cultures? You are working with the Japanese this week and the Sudanese next week."

A few floors down, pasta-extruding researcher Peter Frolich is looking for ways to persuade North Americans to eat more nutritionally dense pulse crops such as peas, lentils and beans. In some parts of the world, it's as simple as mixing them with rice or making a paste.

But Canadians are partial to snack foods.

Frolich held up what looks like a puffed cheese snack.

"I can make a Cheeto-like product that has high protein, high fibre, folate minerals and vitamins that has the same mouth-feel," he said.

"I think in the next five to 10 years, these flours will be added ingredients to many if not all the foods processed in Canada," Frolich said. But first, companies need to know it can be done, and secondly, how to do it.

As supporters of the Canadian International Grains Institute gathered to celebrate 40 years of its remarkable history this week, they were looking forward to a future that contains no small measure of uncertainty.

The organization set up to soft-sell Canadian grains, oilseeds and later pulses is looking for new ways to finance its operations; it will be working with new clients as grain companies step up to fill the marketing role previously filled by the Canadian Wheat Board and, if the City of Saskatoon has its way, it will be moving lock, stock and barrel to another province.

Tweed is looking forward, too -- to retirement at the end of this month. He's seen three generations of technical experts come through his lab, witnessed an explosive growth in the sophistication of milling technology, and watched the rise of many a culturally differentiated bread product.

But processors still need to know their ingredients and how to work with them if they are to deliver the quality their customers demand. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

Laura Rance is editor of the Manitoba Co-operator. She can be reached at 792-4382 or by email at laura@fbcpublishing.com .

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 19, 2012 B5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - I Just Want A Race

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings with some size head for cover Wednesday afternoon on Commerce Drive in Tuxedo Business Park - See Bryksa 30 Goose Challenge- Day 12- May 16, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local/Standup- BABY BISON. Fort Whyte Centre's newest mother gently nudges her 50 pound, female bull calf awake. Calf born yesterday. 25 now in herd. Four more calfs are expected over the next four weeks. It is the bison's second calf. June 7, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Does Canada need a national inquiry into the disproportionately high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google