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Father Sam’s Bakes the Best

Whether you are in Buffalo or traveling around the country, you may find yourself being served a bread product made by Father Sam’s. Since 1977, Father Sam’s has been baking sumptuous breads and wraps in the Buffalo area. The bakery’s reputation for quality led to national attention, and now their products are served in restaurants and supermarkets all over the country.
The company’s fascinating back story begins in 1972, when Father Abuid (Albert) Sam, an Episcopalian priest with an immigrant background, started baking pocket bread for his family to ease the strain on the family budget. It was so well received that he soon asked for (and received) permission from the Diocese Bishop to use the bread in Holy Communion, in a broader attempt at trimming expenditures. The “old country” recipe had been in his family for generations upon generations, standing apart from other Middle Eastern flat breads with its thick, moist texture and slightly sweet flavor profile. It wasn’t long before parishioners began asking about it for their own use.
Encouraged by the response he was getting, Father Sam, with the help of his family and good friends Dorothy and Jerry Stahlnecker, opened a bakery in an old garage on Clyde Street in 1977. With $100, Father Sam launched a business that would later become the standard for high quality pocket bread and wraps. “I could never start that business in today’s world,” says Father Sam, but with the support and respect of his staff, and a diverse neighborhood that quickly took to his baked goods, the business was soon a success. Not long after its inception, the business grew too large for its surroundings and moved into the Wurlitzer Building. In 1996, they built a factory in Buffalo’s industrial food district, adding a line of increasingly popular wraps to their repertoire.
Today, Father Sam’s Bakery is still run by a mix of family and friends, producing what many consider to be the industry’s best pocket bread and wraps. The pocket bread, available in white or wheat, is dense, delicious, and remarkably easy to open and stuff. They are fat free, cholesterol free, and parve certified (kosher). The wraps come in a variety of flavors (white, wheat, sundried tomato and spinach) and are made using all natural ingredients. Because of their unique baking process, they do not stick together and tear like other wraps and tortillas.
The affable Nick Sam, who runs the factory, was kind enough to take me on a tour, where the smell of fresh bread was intoxicating and the bakery’s custom-made machinery fascinating. During my visit, I took some pictures that are shared in the slide show above. I also spent time visiting with Father Sam and Glenn Povitz, the Vice President of Sales. Their passion for Buffalo was second only to the passion and pride they have for their product.
Father Sam’s Pocket Bread and Wraps can be found at supermarkets and restaurants throughout the city. I like to fill the pockets with hummus, tomato, red onion and lettuce, but you can really put anything in them. The “mini” version are great for kids and picnics. The wraps are highly adaptable to a variety of applications. Obviously, they can replace bread in any sandwich, but they are also great when used for breakfast burritos and savory quesadillas (or whatever else your culinary imagination can come up with!).
Both (pockets and wraps) also make an interesting pizza base. I often top the pocket breads with gourmet pizza ingredients and then put them on the grill. This is especially good with grilled peaches and honey, or warm strawberries, powdered sugar and aged balsamic vinegar. The tortillas work best in the oven directly on the rack. Try a spinach tortilla with a light layer of artichoke spread and some fresh veggies heated until crispy.
The fun thing about Father Sam’s Pocket Breads and Wraps is that no matter how you have them, they’re always good! So get out there and experiment, YUM! readers- and be sure to share any interesting ideas you have for cooking with Father Sam’s breads.
Father Sam’s
105 Monisgnor Valente Drive, 14206
716.853.1071
www.fathersams.com

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