3 Bear Oats was born from its founder, Therese Moore’s love of cooking and her many years in Europe. Having relocated to Minnesota, Therese began experimenting with steel-cut oats in ways common to Northern European meal routines. Whether savory or sweet Steel cut oats provide the base for the original grain bowl.
3 Bear Oats embraces the bounty of local farms in season while supporting local farmers through their commercial kitchen, The Good Acre.
In the Twin Cities area find 3 Bear oats in the freezer case at Lakewinds Co-op locations, Linden Hills Coop, The Wedge Lyndale, Lunds & Byerlys, Jerry’s Foods, Kieran’s Kitchen, Fine Acre and Whole Earth co-ops in Wisconsin.
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3 Bear Oats Podcast Transcript
Stephanie Hansen 0:01
We have been having such a blast with the makers of Minnesota dinners that we’ve been having at the Lexington we’ve decided to change up the format a bit and have a spring cocktail party. That way more people will be able to experience all of the great makers that we get to talk to we’re going to be having prize brewing V gray distilling, wild state cider, dash fire, cricket, water, spirits, bread blocks, whiskey, love Joy’s Bloody Mary mix, Dennard, craft spirits Edina roastery, J. Carver distilling, sweet Haven tonic Tattersall, share of shrubs, muddle and mint, and popcorn, salad girl Patty, spice nuts, the salsa collaborative and tea arena spices all there at the Lexington during this cocktail party so that you can taste all of the unique Minnesota made products that we have to offer. We’ll be doing sample sizes of cocktails and sample sizes of canned cocktails. And we’ve got some great bites for you there. We’re going to be at the Lexington you can get tickets there $40 A person and it’s at the lex mn.com to order and we will have all of the makers with us that night, all of the floors of the Lexington will be open. So you’ll be having a multi dimensional experience at each of the different floors and be moving through the space trying lots of new makers products and old makers products that you know and love. It’s the makers of Minnesota cocktail party, hurry and get your tickets because when they’re gone, they’re gone. But we anticipate that this is going to be a sellout. We are really looking forward to hosting you. The cocktail party is going to be April 26. That’s a Tuesday night and we will have doors open at six o’clock and we will host you until nine. It’s the makers of Minnesota spring cocktail party. I’ll be there. All of the makers that I’ve mentioned, they’ll be there and we can’t wait to meet you.
Hi, this is Stephanie Hansen. And you’re listening to the makers in Minnesota podcast where we talk to cool people doing cool things. And our guest today Therese Moore is making oats cool steel cut oats, the kind that maybe you had when you were like a real little kid. But chances are you didn’t even have steel cut oats then but to raise you are with three bear oats. And you are revolutionising I think like bringing back the grain bowl and the oat bowl in the freezer section of our grocery store. Welcome to the program.
Therese Moore 2:38
Thank you so much, Stephanie. I love being here. Thank you for asking me. Yeah, I’m just thrilled to be doing just that. Something new and different in the freezer case, that’s convenient. And that’s also good for you and good for the community. So
Stephanie Hansen 2:55
I first heard about you, I think it was three years ago, I had a ra event, I think and I first had a taste of your green bowl, the packaging was a little different than it had like a clear window. And it was kind of maybe it looked a little kid friendly ish. And when I saw you just recently at a woman who cooks event, which by the way, just quick plug for that organization. It’s an organization for women who make or are in the food business in the Twin Cities. And it’s a group that’s pretty small. Like I think there’s like a less than 125 members. But these events that they have are like 40 to 50 people. So you really get to like meet people and talk to people. So if you’re in the food business, and you’re a woman, you should consider joining women who really cook It’s an organization that Suze Ellickson started in, it’s amazing. And I got to have a sample and see your new packaging there. So tell me a little bit about your journey from grain to bowl as it were. And then we’ll talk about kind of since the pandemic, how things have shifted for you,
Therese Moore 4:02
or thank you so much. I’m so Yes, completely true. I started this business in 2018. And it was actually a confluence of two really very different things. One being that I have a European upbringing, and I really value or to grow up. Oh, well. So my dad actually is from Luxembourg. Okay, this teeny tiny country between Germany and in France. And he grew up there. And because of that, and all when you grew up in Luxembourg, you learn five languages right off the bat, you kind of have to. So you have German and French and a few other things. So I spent most of my childhood actually in France, my dad was transferred over there. And so really until the age of 15, I was living in Paris, and I really grew up we went we traveled a lot. We didn’t know how long we were going to be in Europe. So my parents took us everywhere. And I had a real appreciation for food not only as something to that, you know, you, you know, put your mouth but you know it really as an experience and as a joy and so on. And so knowing how Scandinavians eat oats, which is mostly savory, and in the evening, I decided to explore that a little bit. And then that mixed with the fact that one day being a teacher at the time I was I was teaching sixth grade French actually. And I was also having a dinner party. And a couple of hours before the dinner party where I was making a big pasta meal with mushrooms and leeks and parmesan cheese with the rigatoni, I realized that one of the guests is celiac. And cook was not going to be able to have my meal. And I thought, Oh, my goodness, what am I going to do? And I thought back to savory oats and thought, You know what, I’m just gonna take this recipe and put it with the oats and tell her it’s like, you know, we’ll be honest, and say it’s like a risotto. Yeah. And that was way before COVID, where everyone had everyone’s forks and everyone else’s food, you know how it used to be. And when picking it other people’s things. And people said, I was actually challenged, basically, people loved it and said, You should do something this so and that’s how that started. And then I went to a farmers, I actually applied to the farmers market after I’d had closed. And when they said that someone had dropped out, and I now had a booth, I thought, oh, no, I have to do something with this. So that’s how I started, I rented a Big Red Kettle from this food rental company, and I just scooped out oatmeal for people at the farmers market. So it was it was lots of fun. And it was a great start. And actually, you know, a little little shout out to farmers markets, they are a wonderful place for women, for entrepreneurs. And it’s a great place to do a lot of research, which is exactly what I did. So I thought about, you know, and ask people what they liked, what they didn’t like, what was going on. And from there, I created six recipes from that discussion with customers, and everyone loves to talk to at a at a farmers market. So a lot of
Stephanie Hansen 7:19
people use that as like market research, or that’s the only forward facing customer time they get if they’re in grocery.
Therese Moore 7:26
Yeah, absolutely. And it really is where I did a lot of tweaking also of the recipes. And also where I learned a lot about, you know who my consumer is and what they’re interested in, which is like low sat low fat, low sugar healthy. I mean, that low fat and low salt and low, low sodium, low sugar, and healthy organic things. So from there, I was always going to have an organic product that was extremely important to me. And spending time at the farmers market, I really began to learn about how important local is I don’t think I ever gave it as much attention as it deserves, you know, local is so important that it helps the community, right. And your direct community. It makes you feel like you have purpose and you don’t it’s great for the environment because things aren’t being trucked all over the place. And in terms of freshness, I use products working at the good acre, which is my which is my commercial kitchen. Which by the way I absolutely love it’s a nonprofit, beautiful place that has been so incredibly supportive to me and to
Stephanie Hansen 8:39
you too. Yeah, I’m seeing a couple I think they have a couple of spaces coming open and in may
Therese Moore 8:45
do they I don’t I didn’t even know they’re just wonderful literally is a new director, Teresa. Fabulous, fabulous place. But anyways, in Rhys was great there for years as the director of the kitchen, but they have just a ton of outreaches. And one of them is to really encourage the people who use that kitchen, on the makers, the producers to also use a lot of the local produce produce that comes directly to from the fields to the kitchen. And that’s what I do and it’s just, it’s such a joy to see carrots come out of the back of a truck, come into my kitchen, get washed, get prepared and get into the bowls and smack into the freezer which is like maybe, you know a day from
Stephanie Hansen 9:32
the get of the six bowls you have how many are we’ll call them sweet versus savory.
Therese Moore 9:38
Thanks for asking is a great question. Because savory is unusual. And sometimes it gives people a little pause thinking like this, these ingredients with oatmeal, but I think that people need to think of I’d like people to think of steel cut oats as just a wonderful grain that’s so healthy for you and really it It blends with whatever you’re serving with it. So I have three what I call the power breakfasts. One is called little bears breakfast, that’s apples, honey nuts and seeds. It’s quite traditional the apples it’s dairy free, the apples are soaked in, in vanilla and then sauteed in in oils to make a dairy free. Then I’ve got a one called Alpine track, which is peanut butter, banana, and chocolate. So it’s kind of a fun, kid friendly, super kid friendly, great way to get oats into kids with a little chocolate on the side. And then the third one is my husband’s favorite. It’s called petite Canadian. And um, that is bacon cheese and maple syrup. So it’s sweet, savory and kind of smoky too. So those are the those are the breakfast items. And then what I like to call all day out options are orzo Tuscana which is not orzo and sort of my mistake misnamed and a little bit it’s not orzo, it’s the word or so and or so means little bear in Italian, so the little Tuscan bear or so Toscano. And also just kind of I like to think of as a risotto, so it is mushrooms, leeks, parmesan cheese, olive oil and basil. And um, you can think of it it reminds you maybe of a risotto, it’s lovely to eat on its own. It’s lovely to vegetarian dish. If you’re a vegetarian, it’s lovely to chop some tomatoes into it. It’s kind of nice, where it’s serve it with chicken if you’re not vegetarian. And then the last one is cottage garden. And cottage garden is my take little bit inspired from a Korean rice bowl. So cottage garden is a little bit cookie, but delish. It’s vegan is what it’s vegan option. And it’s carrots, broccoli, kimchi, local kimchi and sesame seed oil. And that’s lovely. Think of it with a fried egg on top. And then it’s sort of that Korean traditional dish.
Stephanie Hansen 12:02
Yeah, I really when I first had the first savory bowl, I think I had the result Oh, type one. And just the textures, the oatmeal, and then there was some vegetable in it. And then the I think it had puppy does something that was crunchy on top. Yeah, it was really just delicious. And I have to tell you, you’ve inspired me to like the other day I was doing something with barley. And I kind of overcooked it. So it was really like starchy. And when I was eating that it kind of tasted like the texture of oatmeal. So I use my instant pot and I made some apple sauce, and kind of made like a jar that had applesauce on the bottom, this sort of overcooked mushy or barley in the middle. And then I put some cranberries and some nuts and topped it with a little yogurt during the day. And it was awesome.
Therese Moore 12:58
So good. It’s so fun to be creative with grains. Being grains are such a beautiful food. And they’re incredibly versatile. Yeah. And so if we can get our heads around that creativity that you did in the kitchen, just you were just explaining, it’s just a great, it’s just great fun really is.
Unknown Speaker 13:19
It’s a lot of fun. And marks, it works. You know,
Stephanie Hansen 13:23
when I saw you speak, what occurred to me is my husband and I used to have a business and we would talk about not having products where we had to do missionary work. And what that meant was like, not only sell the product, make the product, market the product, but explain the product and tell like we never wanted to do that. Because it’s so much harder. I feel like you’re probably a mission in this missionary work of getting people to eat not just oats for breakfast, but as a more all day option. Has that been challenging at grocery and just in your in your business development?
Therese Moore 13:56
70? That’s a great question. And so insightful, because that is exactly correct. It is probably the biggest challenge. And that is why demoing is so incredibly important for me and why during the pandemic, we really struggled a little bit because we weren’t able to demo. So as soon as someone tastes the product, for the most part, I mean, everyone has different tastes, but one can agree that it’s like a risotto or it is like a rice bowl. And then the tastes speaks for itself and sells itself. It’s just getting people over that hump. And also sometimes getting people past the fact I find this a little bit some of my older shoppers past the fact that they that oatmeal was forced on them as a child. And it’s actually a wonderful product that should not and doesn’t need to be forced on you especially if you’re created with creative with it and you don’t put it with the humdrum expected ingredients. So, we like to say that we feel Orange for your porridge so you don’t have to. And that is it by adding some you know, creative and different textures and flavors to all the bowls, they become these very convenient, healthy, especially since they’re chill blasted immediately from when I you know, prepare the ingredients that go right into the freezer. So you’re keeping all that goodness locked in a frozen product, and they’re convenient, and they last for a really long time in your freezer. And then when you’re ready, you can take them out and prepare them, which is just warming them up because they are all prepared for you. And I think, you know, it speaks to the you know, nutrition conscious mom, who’s kind of or parent who’s busy but wants something that’s healthy. And actually Alpine track was inspired by a couple of moms who said, If I can just get them to something before the cookie jar, not that there’s nothing wrong with Cookies, cookies are great, but that that wasn’t good. So
Stephanie Hansen 15:57
many kids eat fourth meal, we used to call it at our house, which was the meal right when they got home from school. Exactly. And before the actual dinner was prepared, because we got home from work later. So we ate later. So I feel like this would be a great option for fourth meal kids that maybe are home alone. And just something that’s kind of healthy, that’s going to get them through to dinner or
Therese Moore 16:19
so that they can concentrate on their homework, or maybe they have a sports practice and they have to do something before dinner, or even honestly as a dinner as a really healthy dinner before they go somewhere. So one serving,
Stephanie Hansen 16:32
what was the first store to take you in and tell me what that was like,
Therese Moore 16:36
yeah, it’s such a love story. Honestly, Lakelands will always liquids Co Op will always hold a very, very special place in my heart because not only did they take a chance on me and really support that champs because it’s not just taking you in, it’s then taking you in and then you know lifting you up and supporting you and giving you what you need to succeed. But they also it was through them that I was inspired to apply for grant called makers to market and make credit market was affiliated with the good acre, which is how I actually found my commercial kitchen. Grow north, which is a wonderful institution helping local products and you know, in supporting local and, and liquids. And so they invited a lot of people to apply for this grant to help them go from the farmers market into a store brand product. I love that. There were four of us that won I don’t remember how many people applied. But anyways, four of us won that year. And they really worked with us to help with packaging. And we’re I worked with au our eye, which helped us with all the nutritional facts and getting all that straight. So that was great. And then they invite they launched us right into the store. So it was a program to feed us right into the three liquids. From there. I went into a couple of other coops, like like the wedges have been amazing and, and Linden Hills Co Op. And then and then crosskeys gave me a shot, which was fantastic. And then unfortunately COVID Hit like three months later, so I never really was able to fully establish there. Yeah, but I met Lunz now in all the different lenses and they’ve been wonderful. So
Stephanie Hansen 18:25
so as the COVID pandemic hit. At that point, were you self sustaining and making money and then COVID hit and you had to like keep funneling money into the business to keep it going. Or let’s talk a little bit about just how that worked.
Therese Moore 18:42
Yeah, no, Thanks, Stephanie. Um, you know, I really have so much admiration for the small and fledgling food companies that made it through and I feel terrible sadness for those that did not, I did and that’s great. I found that I was with the support really, of a lot of the, the stores that I was in, I was able to stay afloat, which was great. And I think it was particularly difficult because you know, when people are afraid, even though everyone was eating in and you know, at the grocery stores, getting their stuff and then bringing it home and eating it. I think that people go back to the tried and true the things that they knew the comfort foods of their past. Yeah, and and and they usually are certainly not looking for new foods, you know, when they’re trying to get in and out of that grocery store and not catch anything and so and or if they’re ordering even online and trying to get it into delivered to their homes, and even not in COVID even when we’re not experiencing COVID consumers don’t usually look in the freezer aisle for new products. You know, you people go to the freezer aisle to get the things that they know they want that on their list, the frozen pizza, the ice cream, the peas are and they’re out and it’s cold. It’s a cold aisle, you know, it’s not, it’s not warm, cozy fuzzy, although it’s becoming more of bringing farm fresh to the freezer aisle, it’s comfort to the priest, I’m seeing more and more products that offer that. But um, but during COVID certainly that was a little bit of a challenge. But it worked out and I had faith that the product would do well. And actually, it was a weird blessing. Because there’s always a silver lining to everything there just is. And the silver lining here was it gave me a moment to think to review my packaging, to change the packaging so that it shows up better. It used to be a crafty and you were saying 70 That you’d seen it earlier, it was a lovely package, I loved it and had a window was fabulous. The fact of the matter is the window doesn’t really work in the freezer. It’s not it’s not a plus a window, because it’s behind the freezer glass, and it’s just doesn’t really pop. And the window also prevents color to allow the product to pop and to really share some of the benefits. And then actually by changing the new, changing my packaging, which was great. And I had that opportunity because I had that time, I’m always able to do a lot of the product call outs like, like it’s super high in fiber, it’s got, you know, 12 to 14 grams of protein. So I mean, those things I hadn’t really called out before. So
Stephanie Hansen 21:30
that’s interesting to think about, because I did think your previous packaging was super cute. Yeah. But I can see that you had to repurpose it, because of the freezer section having whole different requirements of what’s going to look good. Yeah, and I’m not thinking about looking at that cute packaging in a freezer section. So that’s really interesting to me. And also, if you look at packaging as real estate for your attributes for your product, with that window, you’re right, you had like a third, less space for attributes,
Therese Moore 22:06
I was trying to be incredibly because I’m extremely proud of the product and I am 100% I can stand behind it that it is super clean in the sense that there is nothing in that those bowls that you would not be proud to have in your refrigerator or in your pantry. Nothing you can pronounce every single ingredient that is in my bowl. And so I wanted to show that with transparency, having a window like this is what you’re going to get. The problem is that window clouds over in the fridge suitcase, and you really can’t see it. And to your point it is real estate. It’s valuable real estate. And so what I realized this regardless of anything else, and I love three Barrows, I love it, it has been the most beautiful adventure and learning I have learned more and made more incredible connections with lovely, lovely wonderful supportive people. It’s given me kind of re faced my inhumanity just people are not competitive, there’s so open, there’s so wanting you to succeed both on the consumer and and store level and, you know, with you focusing Stephanie, on, on on the makers of Minnesota, I mean, it’s just it’s, it’s really lovely to see. And I’ve learned so much about what’s important in selling food really, and the call outs like fiber and protein and low salt, sodium, those are really important. And you can’t just assume that your consumer, it’s not their business, to to know these things. Yeah, it’s your business to help inform. And so we’ve been able to do that.
Stephanie Hansen 23:43
I think it’s good to remember to, then this has happened with just my own recipes and things on Stephanie’s dish.com. When you are just getting sick of talking about something is usually when it’s getting into the zeitgeist of your audience. Like, I feel like some of this stuff, I’m like, Oh my gosh, I’ve been talking about this forever. And then it will be life changing for someone to have discovered the thing that I think I’ve been talking about ad nauseam for 18 months. And you just you realize it’s repetition, it’s people’s brains are full of stuff. And it isn’t until the seventh time that they’ve seen or heard something that it really starts to register. And I do like what you said about faith in the community, because I think people start businesses for lots of reasons. And the food business community, it’s very rarely started to make money or make money, and some of them get real successful. But usually it started with a passion or something that’s inherent to the person that’s the maker. And that’s really why I do the podcast. It’s why I love it. But it’s also why it can be so challenging because these decisions feel super personal. You know, you I know other makers that have had opportunities in local stores and the opportunities haven’t gone well. And they’ve had to like regroup, and they’re like, Oh, God, I, I got kicked out of target, you know, my big target launch and I got kicked out. But it just forces you to kind of relook at what you’re doing really look at your audience, maybe we look at your packaging, we looked at your offering. And I just I think that is important to remember if you are someone that’s listening that struggling and feeling like, oh, how long is this gonna go on? It’s an evolution. And you do have to kind of love what you’re doing for all of those reasons. Because sometimes the money isn’t there. Sometimes the people don’t see the dream in the same way you do. But if you’re committed to it, you know, most people can find a way through that. Yeah,
Therese Moore 25:37
I 70. And it’s just really perceptive. And I think so. So true. And I feel like, I look a little bit, you know, with everything. They’re great days, and not as great days and you get these incredible wins, where you have this euphoria, and the things go, well, then you think, Ah, why, why? What made me,
Unknown Speaker 26:00
but but it’s a practice,
Therese Moore 26:01
right? So you go back to it every day, with kind of a fresh, sort of open mind. And you just try to see through like a practice really,
Stephanie Hansen 26:13
yoga, because that’s what that sounds like. It is like
Therese Moore 26:16
a Yoga it is. And I do like yoga, I love yoga, and I love it for that. You come you know, there are days. You know, as my little as my body is getting a little older, there are days where I think, Wow, I’m incredible. This is incredible. I am so limber. And then, you know, a week later, for no reason at all. I can barely bend over. So there’s something to it, I’m sure maybe it’s too much time in the commercial kitchen. That makes doing it. But it’s important to go back and realize every day is different. And every day is an opportunity really, and I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna, but an opportunity to learn. Because as long as we’re all, you know, continuing to learn as we kind of go down this path of life. It’s all good. It’s all good. It’s all an experience. It’s all an adventure, and what else is there? So
Stephanie Hansen 27:08
I love that. I love thinking about that. I love thinking about small business or your business or your product of your business as a daily practice to I’m embarking on a new thing for myself. And you know, being a cookbook writer is not for sissies, let’s just put it that way. And everything I learned that’s brand new, I think like oh gosh, what I have done this head I have known this. And it’s not like it’s a bad experience. But it’s an experience. You know, I’m learning so much. And just when you think in your career that you’re kind of like sage and you’ve got it down like you enter into a new field and you’re like wow, I had no idea this is also new. So you’ve given me inspiration. Oh gosh, think about that too on a daily basis. So I appreciate that. Teresa more it is three bear oats. They are still cut oats you can find in your freezer section. Yes, they are delicious. Thank you for inspiring me. It was great to meet you and to hear your story on the makers of Minnesota. It was fun to talk with you.
Therese Moore 28:11
Thank you so much. And I really enjoyed this tremendously. And you know if you have any other questions about my business, you can go to my website or I’m on Instagram and also at three barrows.com. So I like to share ideas with you.
Stephanie Hansen 28:27
Thank you. Well connect soon.
Therese Moore 28:28
Thanks so much. Okay, bye bye bye
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