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Fancy Pokket makes entertaining easy

By Alain Bossé 

I recently read a quote (author unknown) that said that “Canadians are born all over the world, but some just haven’t found their way home yet.” Mike Timani did find his way home and his journey has been incredible.

For Mike, leaping into the unknown seemed far less daunting than staying in his home country of Lebanon while civil war raged within its borders. In 1976, at the age of 20, he boarded a flight to Toronto, all alone and with nothing but his luggage and a single contact; his cousin. After spending hours with customs agents, Mike emerged from Toronto Pearson to a sight he could scarcely believe, a taxi driver with a familiar face—one he thought he knew from home. Thinking it had to be a coincidence, he called out the man’s name and to Mike’s surprise, he answered. This simple quirk of fate provided Mike with a tremendous sense of well-being and comfort.

When Mike left Lebanon, his goal was to get settled in his new home country and then pursue a degree in engineering. However, as often happens, life threw a curveball in Mike’s direction in the form of a clause in his immigration status that prohibited him from attending school. As a result, Mike found himself back at the airport; not as a passenger this time, but as a bellboy at the Airport Hilton. Surprisingly, Mike thoroughly enjoyed working in the hotel, and eventually when he was able to attend university, it wasn’t an engineering degree that he pursued, but rather one in hotel management.

In time, his work with Hilton took him to Saint John, New Brunswick, to help open a new hotel. The province agreed with him and after six years he decided to make it his permanent home. He also decided to make another life change and left Hilton to open his own restaurant and bakery in Moncton, both called Fancy Pokket.

There was, however, one significant hurdle: pita bread was not well known in the region, so Mike set out to introduce Moncton and pita bread to one another. The product was so well received that in 1995, Mike was able to sell the restaurant and focus all his attention on supplying the demand that he had created. As pita bread became more recognized and the demand grew, so too did the Fancy Pokket Bakery.

In the past 25 years the facility has grown from 1,000 sq. feet to 45, 000 sq. feet. The product line has expanded as well and the production numbers are staggering; the traditional Lebanese style pita line produces 12,000 pita/hour, 45,000 sandwich naan per hour and 140,000 mini naans; tortillas come in at 21,000 per hour and each hour 12,000 bagels are made. But that’s not all: the various lines also yield 6,000 gluten-free loaves per hour; 18,500 gluten-free muffins per hour; 25,000 cookies and 22,600 hotdog and hamburger buns!

Not all items are produced in Moncton however; the company has expanded into the US, where it owns the largest bakery dedicated to gluten-free products in North America. Due to state-of-the-art freezers, the company is able to move products from one factory to the other so that the gluten-free products are available in Canada as well.

Despite Mike’s major success, awards, and the satisfaction of seeing a son join the family business, he has never forgotten the feeling of stepping off that plane with no more than the hope of a better future. Several years ago, when approximately 900 Syrian refugees arrived in New Brunswick, Mike provided them with a taste of home: they were all generously given a two-month supply of pita bread, but more importantly, Mike shared his story and showed them that in Canada anything is possible.

Have fun entertaining for the holidays with these amazing mini and square naan breads. Let your imagination run wild: we have a few ideas to get you started.

Fancy Pokket Mini Naan with Lobster & Pesto

Makes 1 serving

Take mini naan bread, spread pesto (recipe below) and top with 1 oz (28 g) of lobster meat. Top with grated fresh parmesan cheese and finish with a turn of the pepper mill.

Basil & Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Makes 1 cup (250 mL)

1 cup (250 mL) basil

2 cloves of garlic

¼ cup (50 mL) pumpkin seeds

½ cup (125 mL) grated parmesan

½ cup (125 mL) olive oil

Juice 1 small lime

1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt

Place basil, pumpkin seeds, lime, garlic, and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor; process until well combined. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Add salt. Chill.

Mini Naan with Cream Brie & Tomato Relish

Makes 1 naan

On mini naan bread, spread cream brie (available in cheese section of your grocery store) top with 1 oz (28 g) of Tomato Relish (recipe follows) then top with mini greens.

Country Magic Sweet and Savoury Tomato Relish

Makes 2 cups (500 mL)

2 cups (500 mL) grape tomatoes diced

2 cups (500 mL) yellow onions diced

1 jalapeno pepper deseeded and chopped

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter

¾ cup (175 mL) red wine vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) grainy mustard

½ cup (125 mL) brown sugar

½ cup (125 mL) maple syrup

In large sauté pan melt butter, then add onions, jalapeno pepper, and tomatoes. Sauté for 3 minutes, deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar and Dijon grainy mustard for few more minutes than add brown sugar and maple and let simmer for 30 or 35 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches jam consistency. Cool then place in a jar and refrigerate

Fancy Pokket 4 x 4 Naan Steak and Horseradish  Mayo

Makes 4 naan

Take 4 naan breads, top with your favourite greens; then add 2 oz (57 g) slices of steak cooked to your liking. Top with 1 tbsp (15 mL) Horseradish Mayo (recipe follows) and garnish with chopped shallots. Fold, and use toothpick to hold together.

Horseradish Mayo

Makes 1 cup (250 mL)

¾ cup (175 mL) mayonnaise

¼ cup (50 mL) thick sour cream

2 tbsp (30 mL) horseradish

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) shallots, fine dice

1 tbsp (15 mL) green onions, fine dice

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a medium size bowl and mix together till nice and smooth, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for all the flavours to meld.

Fancy Pokket 4 x 4 Naan Atlantic Salmon & Tzatziki Sauce

Makes 4 naan

Take 4 x 4 Naan Bread cut in triangles then spread with Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows) and top with 2 oz (57 g) cooked Atlantic salmon portions, add a dollop of Tzatziki sauce and garnish with chopped tomatoes, black olives, and sprig of fresh dill.

Tzatziki Sauce

Makes 2 cups (500 mL)

1 English cucumber

2 cups (500 mL) Greek plain yogurt

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, fine dice

Pinch cayenne pepper

2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh dill, chopped

Sea salt to taste.

Grate English cucumber into a strainer, sprinkle with ½ tsp sea salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze to remove excess liquid. Add drained cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, pinch of cayenne and fresh dill to yogurt. Mix together. Add salt to taste. Store in fridge.

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