By Danielle Wayda
The funny thing is, when I lived in St. Lucia, I didn’t even have to buy coconuts,” jokes Victor Michael of Philly Delicious Granola. “They’re all over the place, I could just pick one up outside.” His granola is made in West Philadelphia, where the St. Lucia native is now transitioning into retirement by fueling the rest of us up for work with hearty baked oats in a variety of flavors—including coconut milk.
Michael spent most of his career in the high-stress world of running hotels, including on the island of St. Lucia, and his connection to Philadelphia comes in the form of the degrees he earned in business administration and hotel management from Cheyney University, just outside the City. Four years ago, still living on the island, he began selling his granola to tourists and local stores; owning his own business was his way of making the transition into retirement. But late last year, he returned to Philadelphia and decided to give his granola business a shot here, with the help of The Enterprise Center in West Philly.
Michael takes pride in the perfectly golden, uniform hue and crunchy texture of his product. “The best way to do that is to bake it in a convection oven,” he says. Convection ovens circulate hot air to keep oven temperatures steady, as opposed to more uneven radiant heat ovens, resulting in more consistently cooked food. This ensures that every oat is crisp and flavorful, and never burned.
For his signature ginger honey mix, he uses real ginger that has been dried and ground into powder, as opposed to fresh ginger, which he finds too moist. He does, however, use fresh coconut.
Since he can no longer walk outside and pick one up off the ground, he buys coconuts whole from the grocery store, but he grates the meat from the fruit himself. He prefers the fresh meat, rather than dried or flaked coconut that have been sweetened. The oils contained within (a current darling of the health food world that has uses ranging from skin and hair care to a vegan substitute for coffee creamer) keep his old-fashioned large-flake oats from drying out during roasting, all while adding subtle flavor.
Another goodness-packed ingredient in the granola is flax seeds—high in fiber, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. He partners with Nuts to You, the locally-owned gourmet nuts and snacks vendor, to source his wholesale purchases of oats, raisins and honey. None of his four flavor varieties—ginger, peanut butter, coconut milk and banana—contain any preservatives or artificial coloring.
You can find Philly Delicious Granola at Mariposa Food Co-Op on Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia. He hopes to be able to work with vendors like Weaver’s Way Co-Op and other independent retailers in the near future, and has a long-term dream of expanding his product line to include granola bars.
To find out more contact Philly Delicious Granola at Victor6011@yahoo.com