Thursday, March 30, 2023

A Kapolei woman turned her pandemic hobby into a business and a tribute to her Hawaiian roots

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Keala Souza created Hawaii Bread Co. from her Kapolei home during the lockdown and turned to her Hawaiian culture for inspiration.

Souza has a background as a hula dancer, but before baking, she worked as a flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines for 9.5 years. While traveling the world, she found a love for classic Parisian baked goods, but spotted an opportunity to bridge a gap between traditional French baking and her Hawaiian culture.

“When you think of a bakery, you think French, European, and I really wanted to show that Hawaiians can hold space, Hawaiian flavors, Hawaiian textures, can really hold space in a place that normally doesn’t you will see or think about Hawaii. .”

Her baking journey began as a means to keep her family healthy and sustainable during the pandemic. “It was kind of born out of bad timing for all of us,” Souza said.

But once she mastered the art of the perfect sourdough loaf, she began to see how she could elevate a simple loaf of bread using Hawaiian flavors and Hawaiian iconography featured in Hawaiian quilting and art to create a delicious multi-sensory experience.

“When I came up with the idea of ​​a bakery, I realized that I think I have found my passion, but how can I honor our culture? How can I honor my culture and share it with Hawaiians? Hawaiian food and flavors can hold spaces in places we never thought we would.”

Starting with flavors, Souza has experimented with bridging the gap between French bread and Hawaiian flavors, creating items such as: kalo bagels, ulu and mamaki bread, and even haupia cinnamon rolls.

Souza learned a valuable lesson while traveling around Japan while working as a flight attendant, “you eat with your eyes first,” Souza said.

This inspired a collaboration with Hawaiian artist Teddy Kahakii, who helped create Hawaiian-themed stencils and stencils for her baked goods and logo.

But the cooperation does not end there. Hawaii Bread Co. is a family affair. Souza’s husband helps run social media for Hawaii Bread Co.; children also contribute by acting as quality control.

“My daughter makes sure that every time I order, she has her bread. She doesn’t care; she will always say ‘mommy, where’s my bread?’ And no one is allowed to touch it – it’s hers.”

You can get her breads by placing an order through her direct messages on Instagram. But Souza encourages anyone interested to try their hand at making bread — you can pick up your Hawaii Bread Co. starter kit. here.

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