By Hunter Mylek
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey, and how you got to where you are today?
A: “We both were born and raised in Switzerland. However, as our parents are Italians, we lived for various years in the northern part of Italy, where we went to school and skied during the winter times.
Nevertheless, we obtained our university degrees in Switzerland, where I obtained my master’s degree in International Business and my younger brother obtained his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. As a part-time job, we went to various bakeries and pizzerias to bake, as we always loved to bake.
I then had the fortune of obtaining a scholarship for an MBA degree at GVSU and an internship at VAGTC in 2021. After completing my degree, and being fascinated with West Michigan, and thanks to the knowledge I gained through my MBA program and working at VAGTC, I decided to go back to Italy and learn how to bake from the very best. Keeping in touch with the people I met here and doing some market research, we put together a plan on how to start our own Italian bakery. Hence, at the end of May of this year, we came back to Grand Rapids and started our journey. And now we are in two supermarkets, soon in some local cafes and sell at various Farmer’s Markets.”
Q: What is Dante’s Bakery and how did you and your brother develop this idea?
A: “The story of the Fratelli Minghetti (Minghetti brothers) goes all the way back to when we were children. Our nonna (grandmother) always prepared homemade pasta, bread, and focaccia, so when we went to visit her she would feed us the freshest and tastiest food. Hence, as young boys, you could always find us in the kitchen with our Italian nonna. We learned quickly that you can never be too full. This just wasn’t an option. Having leftovers on your plate was an insult to all the nonnas, as it meant that you did not appreciate all the hard work and passion they put into the meal. This ideology of being together and sharing food with others became a strong value of ours. Sharing this passion with people is what we believe in.
Ever since we have been trying out new and creative recipes. Our father grew up in the small Ligurian coastal town of Recco, famous for its focaccia col formaggio. Trying to get back to our roots, we started to bake authentic focaccia with the help of our Italian nonna.”
Q: You got your master’s degree in business and administration, but you take on a huge role as the Baker for your business as well. Could you talk more about your love for baking and how it helped you enter this industry?
A: “When you enter the food industry, the quality of your products has to be the best possible. As our motto is “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci. We use only six ingredients for our basic focaccia.
In addition, you have to provide your clientele with something different from what other bakeries do. So our competitive advantage is that I went to the best focaccia bakeries in Italy to learn how to bake authentic Italian focaccia. You want to learn from the best and not from the second best. Thus, I had the fortune to work side by side with the bakers for six months, waking up every day at 1 AM, watching, imitating, and constantly asking questions, until I got to know their secrets. I was the annoying kid, that always asked questions, but as I offered the bakers espressos, they did not mind too much…
This “Know-How” then helped me, to be confident enough, to know that I knew the history, the theory, and the practice of baking.”
Q: What does Dante’s Bakery mean to you, and what does the future look like?
A: “We at Dante’s Bakery believe that we must go back to simplicity. The pleasure of eating together and conversing pleasantly at the table – the origins of which probably date back to the first hominin cooking experiments, a ritual that continues to this day – consolidating love relationships, friendship, business, or intellectual, refines the exercise of tasting. Our Mediterranean diet is not a diet, it is more a lifestyle, it is simplistic, social, and sharing.
Whether you have a meal with your family or with friends, the relationships you make are strong. In addition to providing us with energy and nourishment, food also serves as a form of fulfillment. It is meant to provide social connection, be joyful, and be enjoyable.
We are aspiring to open our own storefront next year.”
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
A: “I would have a huge list of advice I would love to share. But I’ll mention the three most important ones, that helped me.
Before you start your journey, answer a simple question, Why. Why do you want to do this? What is the reason? What is your goal behind it? It does not have to be a financial goal, it can even be, that you want to help people want to gain experience, or be independent. This will help you, especially when the time comes when you feel discouraged.
Secondly, one should have fun while following his passion. I say this, as you will face various obstacles. You will solve one challenge and as soon as you solved it the next one will be waiting for you. And during these times, don’t forget that this is just temporary, and solving these issues will make you stronger. Then just remind yourself why you started your journey.
Last but not least, get enough sleep. Set it as a priority, as you want to and will need to have full energy when you make business decisions. This sounds extremely simple but believe me, it is harder than one might think.”