Loaves of freshly baked traditional rye bread head from the cooler toward the packaging department.
True to nouveau tradition

At first, stepping into the realm of chia seed and hemp seemed less than conventional for a company whose heritage is founded on a long line of ethnic specialties made from flour, water, salt, yeast and often little else but time. The products’ biga requires 18 to 24 hours of fermentation, a step integral to creating a high-moisture, almost liquid dough that bakes on a hearth-style oven and results in a crispy, aromatic loaf.

Traditionally, ciabatta is served warm at dinner alongside a plate of extra virgin olive oil with a dash of black or white pepper and a touch of parmesan cheese. However, Orlando Baking’s signature bread and rolls are currently recognized by a growing number of consumers thanks to their use in a panoply of menu items offered by quick-service restaurants (QSR) and casual-dining chains as operators seek to upgrade their sandwich menus.

Despite its foundation of formulas and adherence to the art of baking, Orlando Baking managers believe the continued pursuit of “what’s new” gives the company permission to constantly reinvent itself.

“We’ve been around for a long time,” explained John Anthony Orlando, executive vice-president of operations, who along with Nick Orlando Jr.; Daniel Vincent Holan, vice-president of administration; Chris Orlando, director of national sales; and John C. Orlando Jr., general counsel and director of operations, comprise the fifth generation management team. They still meet weekly with fourth­generation co-CEOs Chet (Sonny) Orlando and John C. Orlando Sr., who, along with the late Nick Orlando Sr., laid the foundation for the current company’s business model.

“We stay true to our tradition with our classic breads, but at the same time, we also want to be innovative and keep on doing everything that has kept us going throughout the years,” John Anthony Orlando explained.

Take the signature Pane Nicola, introduced just seven years ago but reminiscent of the archetypical Old World-style bread if there ever was one. Served at white-­tablecloth restaurants, the round, rustic, single-hand-twisted ciabatta bread weighs in at 1.5 lb per loaf and requires 48 hours of fermentation at 50°F prior to proofing and 40 minutes of baking.

Yet, despite using an age-old baking process, the bread’s ingredient legend is so modernly simple and on-trend that the bakery could tout it as having an authentically clean label, according to John Anthony Orlando.

A few years back, Orlando Baking also came out with Ciabatta Crostini, or “little toasts,” that are ciabatta baguettes, sliced and lightly brushed with olive oil before toasting. The snacks can be used for dipping in spreads, as an appetizer topped with cheese or made into ­bruschetta and come in Multigrain; Rye; and Asiago, Parmesan with Garlic varieties.

The bakery also moved into to the supermarket freezer case where it sells snackable, easy-to-heat Pepperoni Rolls with mozzarella cheese and Italian herbs. The product comes in a unified packaging format with the Orlando Baking family of Garlic Texas Toast, Texas Toast with Cheese and Garlic Breadsticks.

To expand into additional eating occasions, the company currently is adding yet-announced breakfast options to its frozen baked goods portfolio. “We see the whole handheld segment growing,” Chris Orlando pointed out. “It seems everyone in the restaurant industry is going into 24-hour breakfasts now.”

The juxtaposition of Old World and New Age comes quite naturally to the business. “We’re about family, culture, history, flexibility and being one of the oldest bakeries in the country,” John Anthony Orlando said. “When people come up with a product idea, we always try to accommodate them. Flexibility, innovation and being cost-competitive are what differentiate us in the market.”


Learn about Orlando Baking's foodservice roots in the next segment.