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Third Culture Bakery: A Community Driven Business

by Radhe Gupta
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Bakeries and cafes are often considered inviting, but Third Culture Bakery stands out with its welcoming ambiance and love that extends into the community. This Asian- and Queer-owned business serves up famous Mochi Muffins® based on Chef Sam Butarbutar’s memories of baking with his mother in Indonesia, but the specialty of Third Culture goes beyond its delicious menu of treats.

Third Culture Bakery’s Origin 

Founders and owners Sam and Wenter Shyu met and fell in love in Berkeley, CA. They are both skilled bakers, and Wenter suggested they start a business, which they named Third Culture Bakery. The term “third culture” refers to children who grew up in a different culture from their parents. 

As well as the famous Mochi Muffins®, Third Culture serves butter mochi donuts, mochi brownies, and healthy yet deliciously creative matcha drinks. While this might be enough to put Third Culture Bakery in an elite category, Sam and Wenter understand how it is to feel different from the standards of what modern society considers normal. 

They wanted to create and foster an atmosphere of inclusion, understanding, and kindness to welcome you and every one like family. Since the first Mochi Muffin® in 2014, this goal has stood firm. The goodwill at this special bakery also extends into the community. 

Creating and Distributing Safety Kits 

When violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders began to rise, Third Culture Bakery’s Sam and Wenter decided to take action. With the help of volunteers, they began assembling safety kits to give to older Asian Americans to promote a sense of security. The movement took hold, and  Sam and Wenter have given away more than 22,000 kits to people as far away as Chicago and New York City. 

Funding Emergency Relief 

Wenter and Sam gave thousands of dollars for pandemic help. They created an emergency relief fund to support a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, or BIPOC, community.

Supporting World Central Kitchen

Sam and Wenter have supported World Central Kitchen, a not-for-profit, non-government institution that provides meals after natural disasters. Well-known chef José Andrés founded it, and Wenter and Sam wanted to help. They also donated proceeds from a fundraiser during their fifth anniversary celebration to World Central Kitchen to help feed refugees from Ukraine. 

Donations to Community Organizations

Wenter and Sam promote the well-being of many cultures. They have donated to the Chinatown Community Development Center and to the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. 

Third Culture Bakery Bio

After Sam created his particular recipe for Mochi Muffins®, he and Wenter won wholesale contracts from local bakeries. Sam would bake all day while Wenter worked a full-time job. When he got off, he would help Sam finish up, and then they would deliver the treats, often being up until dawn. Sam’s recipe quickly won fans, and Wenter’s matcha creations also grew popular. From the first location in West Berkeley to three other dedicated locations and wholesalers, Third Culture Bakery is on the rise.  

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