What happens when a former surgeon and an operating room nurse bake in their home kitchen?
This is no joke: they produce Croccante, a four-seed cracker, low-carb and gluten-free, and it is delicious. It has got to be a big change, from the OR to a home kitchen, and it’s also been an exhilarating foray for one Red Bluff family.
The foray to produce this toothsome cracker that stands alone and pairs well with hummus, cheese, spreads, anything, atop it, this foray began three years ago, when an overweight Dr. William Gentry developed the back problem that ended his thirty-year career performing surgery. First reaction was to lose weight, and as one would expect from a scientist, he extensively researched the lowcarb diet, including its biochemistry. Now quite slim, he says that the health benefits he has experienced, more so than his weight loss, have led him to continue on the diet.
The dearth of tasty, nutritious low-carb foods soon had him experimenting in his kitchen, and he created a lowcarb pasta that held up so well, it could support a hefty sauce—and it tasted good too. When family and friends raved, the whole family, husband and wife and two grown children, became excited about making Gentry’s kitchen creations available to more people. They “spent countless family meals and drives brainstorming ideas for a business name, thinking through the logistics of the operation, working through the low-carb dietary restrictions and requirements,” according to Dr. Gentry’s website explanation. The business name, Victi, and Croccante, the cracker, resulted.
William and Lisa Gentry have a clear delineation of duties when they work in their kitchen. Lisa noted that her nursing background has paid off as she assures the sterile environment required for certified home kitchen production. She puts the ingredients together—the pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and flax seeds from Moore’s Flour Mill in Redding, eggs, butter, sesame oil, thyme, and oregano. Her husband designed a press he uses to form the dough into uniform thickness, so cracker edges don’t burn, and a wooden grid he uses to cut the crackers into uniform dimensions. “It takes us four to five hours,” Lisa enumerates, “to make, bake, and package fifty bags of crackers, sixteen crackers per bag.”
It’s a dense and savory, crunchy and tasty cracker, “a mini-meal,” the couple calls a single cracker, so hearty, rich, and filling it is. For the year so far the cracker has been on the market, they’ve sold packages of Croccante out of Dr. Gentry’s office on Rio Street in Red Bluff, as well as in other Tehama and Shasta County locations. They and their two children—daughter Jennifer also designed the VICTI business card and Croccante label and handles their online presence—sample the cracker at many Tehama County local food events. The Gentrys have also now realized their goal of making Croccante available in Butte County, at Almendra Winery in Durham, and they will be sampling the cracker at there during Sierra Oro Farm Trail weekend, October 12 and 13 this year. 1
Find Croccante at Dr. Gentry’s office, The Saturday Farmers’ Market on the River, and Enjoy the Store in Red Bluff; Enjoy the Store in Redding; Bianchi Orchards shop in Los Molinos; Sweeties Swirls Cakes in Corning; and Almendra Winery in Durham.
victilcg.com and Facebook
Edible Shasta-Butte is the guide to local food, dining, and gardening in Northern California’s central valley from Butte County north to the Oregon border.