We had the good fortune of connecting with Lance Toro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lance, every day, we talk about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Wantz and Kneads came to be as a complete labor of love and a joining of forces. I had been a private chef for some Hollywood’s most well-known celebrities for over 30 years. I was desperate to get out of that field of work but had no idea what my second act would entail. My partner Jenn had worked in marketing for many years and suggested that we work together to combine my love of food with her knowledge of sales and so, Wantz and Kneads was born.
I have always been passionate about the science of sourdough so immersed myself in it and studied the process extensively. Jenn used her wordsmith skills to create the name and brand. We subscribe to the belief that everyone has wants and everyone has needs and relied on a play on words to create a catchy brand. But of course, a catchy brand without quality behind it, doesn’t last long. In my opinion, our sourdough is the best in the city and offers an assortment of different varieties as well as our soups, compound butters and dessert items. We are currently in four Los Angeles Farmers Markets — Sherman Oaks, Agoura Hills, Encino and Simi Valley. We have created quite a following and we are so passionate and proud about the work that we do.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Being a chef for Hollywood’s elite for thirty years has allowed me to hone my craft and create truly exceptional food. You don’t last long in that business if your food is not extraordinary. But what really makes our food amazing is the love and passion that goes into it. My favorite part is when we get to watch people try our food for the first time and watch their expression – usually when their eyes roll into the back of their head or we see a huge smile on the faces of our first time customers, we have a pretty good indicator that we are doing something right.
Getting Wantz and Kneads to where it is today has definitely not been easy. I think if we had known how arduous the path would be, we might not have done it. Starting a business is not for the faint of heart — Many sleepless nights and exhausting days. But I wouldn’t change one bit of it. Jenn and I are partners in business and in life and I think starting Wantz and Kneads has only gotten us closer. We complement each other and utilize each others’ strengths to keep moving forward.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Our Shoutout goes out to our amazing friends and family who have been amazingly supportive of our endeavor. Without the love of our kids, grandkids, real and extended family, Wantz and Kneads could never have happened. We also want to give a Shoutout to our four-legged family who continue to build us up and love us when are beyond exhausted. Part of how Wantz and Kneads gives back is to send a portion of our proceeds to East Valley Animal Shelter – all of our pets are rescues and they truly love and expect nothing in return.