16: Peter Merzbacher

I apologize for any issues in audio quality. This was my first time utilizing a new service called Zencastr to record this interview remotely.


  • Peter is the founder of Philly Bread Company, the creator of the Philly Muffin
  • Peter cites two tracks which led to Philly Bread
    • He has always been interested in combining creativity and business
      • As a child, he bought a CD burner and sold CDs to neighbors
      • He also made and sold his own candy bars
      • Peter undertook many more entrepreneurial endeavors
        • He has also always been interested in food
        • His interest stems from foods connectivity to everything else
        • Food is tangible but relates to economics, sociology, politics and much more
        • Those two disparate interests combined when he began his Philly Bread venture.
  • Peter went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and received his Bachelor's Degree with an Individual Concentration
    • Peter built his own major
    • The quote from this segment that stuck out most is "I learned how to learn"
      • Meaning, because Peter had to create his own major, he was forced to think carefully about what he wanted do and then plot a course
    • He tied in the entrepreneurship aspect to bring in a practical and grounded element
  • Another quote that stuck with me is "if you want to know how food gets to cities, no one [college] department is going to teach you how food gets to cities and how food is moved around in cities. That's going to come from on the ground experience working in restaurants, working in grocery stores, running a business..."
  • While at UMass Amherst, Peter started an urban farm for inner city youth called New Growth Gardens
    • It was geared to teens who were working toward a GED and needed on the job training
    • They created window gardens, community gardens, etc.
  • Peter is originally from Mass.
    • He received a research grant to tour urban farms around the country
    • Part of the reason he settled on Philadelphia was our urban farming scene
    • The city was changing a lot and there was hope for the future
  • Philly Bread is entirely wholesale
  • Peter says that collaboration between breweries and other parts of the food industry is a future trend in the food industry
    • He also notes the scale of production - large, but not at the industrial level in the craft industry
    • America is also coming back into its own in terms of food and beer styles
  • Philly Bread is building a new, larger bakery to scale up their production
  • They also offer "Bread-u-cation" a bread baking class
  • They also plan to collaborate with some other bakers in the Philadelphia area

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