Three Learnings from the Joy of Keto Test Kitchen

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Brian Hinton’s Joy of Keto enterprise is only half a year old.

During that time, the Skunkworks team of Brian and Wendy have been working in the bakery and the research laboratory to develop a range of new, fresh, keto-friendly baked products.

But half a year is only the latest part of the Joy of Keto story.

For over four decades, Brian has been at the vanguard of baking and food technology in Canada and overseas. So, reflecting on his fledgling enterprise, Joy of Keto, he identified these three learnings to share with our readers.

  1. There is no business without a product.

Last week was a challenging one for Brian and the Skunkworks crew, as well as for the staff of the Lakeview Gluten-Free Bakery. Word is definitely out that new delights are for sale in this suburban Calgary bakery, and the shelves were soon empty. Keto-friendly products were jumping off the shelves.

Brian had to spend several long shifts baking enough keto-friendly products to allow him to take a well-earned holiday overseas.

He needed to roll up his sleeves and get baking.

It was also important to hire and train new staff and to make sure that the oven was hot. It might sound a bit odd in the world of radical innovation, but it’s true: there is no bakery without baked goods!

  1. Product innovation is an ongoing process

Fortunately, Wendy likes to eat. As a Skunkworks stalwart and Chief Taster, she’s required to do that.

A lot.

Brian was worried for a while recently. He was not completely satisfied with some of his early product testing efforts, especially in the case of the chocolate brownies. Wendy, a long-time brownie aficionado, reminded him of the heritage of the chocolate brownie. The chocolate brownie we know and love today resulted from a careless error by an American baker back in the Nineteenth Century. They forgot to add the baking powder to the cake batter. (Oops!)

Whatever its history, the modern-day brownie is a gooey and luscious thing. And Brian soon found that almond flour was not really up to the job. Almond flour is not a flour, at all. It’s just ground almonds. And it’s gritty.

Not gooey enough for a chocolate brownie to die for.

So one reason that all our new Joy of Keto products do not yet have the specific nutritionals on their labels is that Brian is still modifying the recipes. He’s still in his apron in the test kitchen. Now he’s experimenting with coconut flour. It’s shown promise so far.

But make no mistake: this is so much more than just tinkering. This is applied food technology at its finest in the hands of a master baker.

Wendy, the researcher, can only watch and marvel.

And taste.

  1. There is no product without customers

The arrival of Lucia, the Joy of Keto hummingbird on the walls of the Lakeview Gluten-Free Bakery, changed life in this small bakery for good. Lucia was Brian’s idea. He did not want to go with fancy marketing ideas and slogans for his new enterprise. Vancouver graphic designer Megan Finnerty gave life to Lucia, as did Calgary mural artist, Austin Edwards.

Brian had this bright and agile bird in his mind – and in his heart – as his dream of a baked-goods enterprise began to take shape.

Lucia has taught all of us a great deal about adaptability and responsiveness. The Lakeview Gluten-Free bakery had its genesis in a request from the Canadian Celiac Association ( ) directly to Brian. They asked him if he could make gluten-free bread because none was available in Calgary. He did that. And has done so for decades now.

And the rest is history.

Now, decades later, Brian is responding to another imperative: the need to support the evolving dietary choices of Albertans and especially Calgarians. He has listened to his customers for 44 years. Now a whole new enterprise, Joy of Keto, is the result of Brian’s attentive listening.

These three learnings (the essence of a good product, the ongoing nature of innovation and the imperatives of customer feedback) have driven Brian to develop his new Joy of Keto enterprise. He’s learned a lot along the way and, as mentors do, he’s passing on the lessons.

And we have learned something else that is new and valuable about this elderly reflective practitioner:

You can teach an old dog new tricks.


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