Moti’s Market, the newly re-branded KosherMart of Rockville, is planning to take the country by storm. No longer satisfied to share his delicious pita, tehina and salads with all of us locals, Potomac resident Israeli Moti Yitzhaky is now expanding his business to produce up to 30,000 pita breads per day and sell them and his packaged Israeli salads nationwide.
With great confidence, Moti exclaims, “If Sabra taught America how to eat hummus, I will teach them how to eat pita.” Moti firmly believes that pita is great bread for sandwiches because it keeps so well in the freezer. His sells the breads frozen, and stores can resell them thawed. In my house, there is always Moti’s pita in the freezer.
Moti’s partner-in-pita and more is head baker A.C. Newman, a warm, friendly guy with whom he has been working for ten years. A.C. was born in a bakery, frying doughnuts by age nine. He spent 14 years as the head baker at a kosher bakery in Lakewood, NJ. In his 30s, he moved to North Carolina to retire.
Unable to stay away from baking, he came across Moti’s online ad for a baker when Moti’s head baker got sick. A.C.’s only complaint is that every time Moti returns from Israel, he barrages him with a list and instructions to “make this” and “figure out how to bake that” from the “smuggled” Israeli samples. A.C. will likely get to Israel himself this year and see what all the “baked” fuss is about.
As we all know, pita loves a good dip…and I love Moti’s hummus and flavorful roasted eggplant salads. Our family favorite is his tehina, which my son Jake thinks tastes great on everything, including pizza. Moti’s plan is to market eight to ten different salads by December, when the catering side of the factory will be up and running. First, the pita machinery must be working perfectly.
When I went to visit Moti in his new 5,000-square-foot factory behind a professional building on Parklawn Drive in Rockville, he had a huge cart of tools out and was taking apart the giant mixer to fix some parts. It sure comes in handy that Moti used to be a car mechanic! He always had a passion for food and saw the sale of Katz’s as a chance to make a career change. That was ten years ago.
Moti said that he has enough local orders to justify the expansion. He supplies pita to hotels, restaurants, food trucks and other businesses in the metro DC area and in Baltimore. His pita sales include whole wheat and mini pitas.
I was fascinated by the pita-making machinery, which Moti imported from Israel. It bakes bread Rube Goldberg-style. First, the dough is mixed in a huge mixer I wish I owned, the bowl big enough to bathe a few kids inside. After the dough is mixed with a magic dough softener, it is fed into a machine that spits out the right size balls to form each pita bread. A conveyor belt brings them to the proofing shelves where they move up and down what looks like a moving walkways. The balls are then fed through a rolling machine, flattened and placed on wood boards that are slid into a cabinet to rise for 20 minutes.
The bread-baking machine spits out puffed up pitas in less than a minute. The baked pitas take a final ride on a series of blue tracks to cool before they are stacked and packed. I grabbed a few runaways that tried to escape the belts (they would have fallen anyway).
The machines can produce 3,000 pitas per hour. Moti and A.C. are making small adjustments to achieve the perfect thickness and evenness in baking and to make sure all the belts run smoothly to avoid a pita traffic jam. For now, they are producing a modest 2,400 per day, but that will soon change.
One day, when everyone in the US is eating Moti’s pita and salads, we will know that it all started here with the soft dough and a perfect pocket that embraces Moti’s salads and any filling we can dream of.
Moti’s Market, 301-468-0400, 4860 Boiling Brook Parkway, Rockville, MD. Sunday, 7:30 am-9:00 pm; Monday, 7:30 am-8:00 pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 am-9:00 pm; Friday, 7:00 am-4:00 pm.