Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 18th 2018 Contents in the seat SB3
Sunday, March 18, 2018
n the Paramin community,
the white panel van bearing
the bright yellow logo—Saut
Dough Bakery—is symbolic.
Not only does it meanders
around the hilly terrain sup-
plying freshly baked bread daily,
but it advertises opportunity.
The bakery provides a platform
for the neighbourhood youths
to harness their skills and subse-
quently become businessowners
A thrust which proprietor
Garvin Luces believes will not
only enrich the lives of Paramin
residents but eventually will inject
much needed capital into T&T’s
But Luces story is also one of
inspiration: starting off as a dish
washer to laboriously working his
way to head baker at several local
and regional establishments.
His 23-year journey in the culi-
nary world has been both arduous
Leaving what was formerly
known as the Belmont Junior Sec-
ondary School and then the Tran-
quility Government School with
three O’Level passes, Luces said it
was sheer grit and determination
which propelled him to become
the hard worker that he is today.
“I came from very humble be-
ginnings. When I left school with
just three subjects I did not let this
deter me. I wanted to make some-
thing of myself and I not want to
sit on the block and just do noth-
The husband and father of three
said he also drew inspiration
from his great grand-mother who
walked tirelessly throughout Para-
min to sell bread.
“She would bake bread in this
big dirt oven and walk from door
to door through the community to
sell. So you could say that baking
also runs through my veins,” he
Luces also grew up in the farm-
ing sector where he, like the ma-
jority of Paramin residents, are
Seasonings such as thyme is
a key ingredient in some of his
In reminiscing about his early
days in the world of work, Luces
said he felt, at times, like he was
being exploited, as hours seemed
never-ending with very little pay.
“When I started to work at 18 I
had nothing. So I had to take what-
ever opportunity that came my
way and learn all what I could.”
On one occasion he applied for a
job in the bakery of a large super-
market chain but as there were no
vacancies at the time Luces said he
was instead given the position of
“I left but returned soon after
because that supermarket called
me back and I was placed in the
bakery. It was a fantastic expe-
rience because everything was
made from scratch; nothing came
from boxes,” he said.
But four years later Luces de-
cided he could do more.
At 23, he returned to school
where he completed programmes
in food preparation and cafeteria
operations which prepared him
with additional skills in entrepre-
As he slowly elevated, doors
opened which paved the way for
rewarding experiences through-
out his culinary education.
Among those included being
taught by Bob DeMeir, a Belgian
master baker who played an in-
strumental role in teaching Luces
about the technical aspect on the
Luces was also the chef of a res-
taurant in Antigua for a year and,
during that time, he opened a bak-
ery for the owner on that island.
He was also fortunate to work
as a pastry assistant on a five-star
Celebrity Cruise liner and at the
Hilton Hotel where he advanced
his knowledge about the world of
But the 43-year-old explained
that his dream was always to be
truly independent; to not only
become a successful self-made
businessman but to “feed” a com-
munity which he holds dear to his
“Learning is continuous. When
I felt I wasn’t challenged any more
I moved on.”
Coupled with this was the fact
that he had just got married and
had a daughter.
“The hours were just too long
and it wasn’t worth it. I chose my
family and a new path for myself,”
Hence the Saut Dough (pro-
nounced so dough and is French
for water jump) bakery was born
which Luces proudly boasts was
named after Saut D’eau beach
which can be easily spotted from
the evergreen Paramin hilltops.
Getting his business of the
ground was no easy task. Although
he had garnered some savings,
this was still insufficient to pur-
chase all the commercial baking
equipment costing $300,000.
“At first I invested little because,
over the years, I made contacts in
the industry and was very fortu-
nate to receive some equipment. I
would pay them something every
month,” Luces said.
To augment his production ca-
pacity, Luces built a clay oven by
himself at the back of his home
where he turned out creations
such as his signature herb bread,
a blend of traditional Paramin sea-
soning including rosemary.
Beet root and cheese and spin-
ach and cheese bread are also fa-
The oven itself became an at-
traction to curious residents and
even to those from far-flung areas.
Within the last three years,
Luces described businesses “as
doing very well,” so much so that
he was finally able to expand his
This, unfortunately, resulted
in the demolition of his infamous
clay oven to make room for larger
counter space and convection
Luces says he intends to con-
struct another clay oven, also from
scratch by the end of the year.
And contrary to popular belief
Luces insisted that the convection
ovens have impacted neither on
the taste nor quality of his prod-
“People have a notion that dirt
oven and wood fire creates a dif-
ferent taste. But in my experience
it is all about recipe and formula.
“The heat is always the same. It
does not matter if it is convection,
conduction or radiation. With
the clay oven there is a 360 de-
gree baking; heat from all around
which gives the bread a fast swell.
But it boils down to recipe because
any bread will cook in heat,” Luces
So where does Luces see himself
in the future?
First and foremost, he said, was
primarily giving back to his com-
“If any one comes to work with
me I don’t hold them back be-
cause no one held me back. I try
to instill in my young workers that
discipline of reaching to work on
time, good work ethics and good
principles and with that formula
you would be successful in what-
Each day Saut Dough Bakery
uses about 700 pounds of flour,
creating an array of products in-
cluding pastries and breads.
Financial assistance difficult
When Luces became self em-
ployed, he had no employees.
His assistance came from his wife
Esme and three children: Annalee,
Daniel and Elijah.
Today, Luces has six workers
and has constructed a preparation
and production area at the back of
Additionally, he has an outlet
along Maraval Road.
He has accomplished this with-
out taking a loan mainly because
he felt the process to be onerous
“I never went for any loan be-
cause as small businessman, the
banks want to know what you
have. They want to know if you
have deed and all sorts of things;
security to loan you this money.
It is not very encouraging. I took
whatever I had and invested it
back in my business and I’m still
doing that,” Luces said.
He advised that the financial
system itself ought to be tweaked
to foster growth and development
among the micro and small busi-
Busily chopping an array of sea-
soning was Djimmon Thomas.
Thomas, fresh out of Queen’s
Royal College already sees himself
as opening his own business.
The 18-year-old business grad-
uate described working at Saut
Dough during the last year as a
golden opportunity not only for
himself but for other Paramin
youths who yearn to become self
“When I came out of school
I didn’t have anything to do. I
wasn’t sure where I was going in
“So Mr Luces told me to come
across to the bakery. When I
started I realised it is more of an
art than a trade and it is something
I like,” the teenager said.
He expressed gratitude to Luces
not only for knowledge gained but
providing him with an income.
“I plan to open my own bakery
one day. Working at Saut Dough
has not only given me a job but a
sense of purpose and independ-
ence in life,” Thomas said.
His brother, Jeurgen, 21, who
also works at the bakery said he
too has plans to start his own bak-
Esme Luces cuts currants
and coconut rolls.
Luces: It’s all about giving back
Andre Letren cuts
dough used to
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