Imagine a place where you can get a delicious and healthy snack, possibly an espresso, in a chic and simple café that recalls a European ‘joie de vivre’. You go there after the gym, before work, with friends on the weekend, and even take the kids there for a treat.
This is just the vision that Anya Kats has drawn in my mind, and as she describes hopes for her company’s future it appears to me as an idyllic post-local food movement achievement – where a metropolis overwhelmed by corporately owned and mass manufactured synthetic snacks is ‘saved’ by privately owned family-oriented establishments that personally track and control their product from start to finish, or farm to face in the case of Kat’s, Moo Moo Bars.
It’s not the concept that is new, but the conditions
Coming from a Baltic background of successful food producers, Anya’s passion is clearly a legacy that she is determined to uphold, as she hands me a gift of both the Double Chocolate and the Peach Lemon bars starring Moo Moo the cow – and his red-headed friend, Bar – the spokes-characters that smile back at me from the individual packaging. This branding, and every other aspect of her business – not to mention the search for her own dairy farm to provide her with primary product – is a lot of work for one woman. This is where family comes in, and members of the Kats family proudly fill the ranks of her company as co-workers.
I came to know of Moo Moo Bars and Anya’s story via Robert Paul, owner of Greenlane Winery in Niagara. Once again, the world of cheese and wine collide for the mutual benefit of their consumers, and one another. Greenlane’s Riesling icewine was recently paired with Moo Moo Bars in at a tasting that well-known wine writer, David Lawrason participated in. Robert Paul’s respect and admiration for Anya and her tasty cheese products brought about this very meeting between the North York business woman and myself, when I spoke with the winery owner at the Toronto Wine and Cheese Show in March. Not to mention, there was Anya’s pitch on Dragon’s Den where she turned down the offers made to her. So, needless to say, I had to meet this young and business savvy girl!
When I sat down with Anya at C5 at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum a few weeks ago, it was easy to see why the likes of Robert Paul, David Lawrason, and the CBC Dragons sang the praises of the product – and its professional.
The Moo Moo Bar, Anya’s flagship product (cakes and other treats/snacks are also available), is truly a delicious, healthy, unique, and timely food product. Certainly, with regard to special diets – dairy sensitive folks will be outside of Anya’s current market; but that is clear from the branding, so there is no room for confusion.
Anya’s Moo Moo Bar is a cheese product that has its roots in the Eastern European lifestyle of her youth and she recalls the version from her childhood with extreme fondness. Also, as a young mother she insists that her desire to produce an edible for the next generation to be overwhelmingly important.
100 Calories, Nut Free, Gluten Free, Kosher, uses 100% Canadian Milk
There is no question – after tasting the creamy and flavourful snack – and distributing a few extra bars to my friends – that the quality of the product and passion of the owner are destined for success.
Everyone asks the same questions after tasting a Moo Moo Bar – “Where can I get these?”
For now, the bars and other select products are available sporadically throughout the city at fine grocery stores and select restaurants. It is my hope, along with Robert Paul, and – of course – Anya, that the more folks that taste and tell about the Moo Moo Bar the better chance there is for our mutual dream of local and sustainable food products to appear and appeal to the consumers that make aspirations like those Anya has, become reality – and quickly.