The love story behind the family chosen by Third Culture Bakery
“As we grew and developed, we found our voice to really show what it could be like when a bakery exists out of love,” Shyu said. “Essentially we have the bakery because two men fell in love and so we share that love story.”
The dynamic bakery duo fell in love in Berkeley and opened Third Culture Bakery, a community gathering space that offers baked goods reflecting their childhoods in Indonesia and Taiwan.
“Third culture is a term to describe children who have come to the United States and grown up in a different culture than their parents,” Butarbutar described. “And so, these kids end up forming their own third interpretation of both cultures.”
The bakery’s range of sweet and chewy donuts and muffins incorporate flavors such as matcha, pandan, mango, passion fruit and more. Their signature Mochi Muffin was their very first offering, and it’s now a best-selling symbol of the establishment.
“The Mochi Muffin tells this third culture story because it’s something Sam made growing up in Indonesia with his mother that he’s now translated using French-style butters and baked with it,” Shyu said. . “And so, it really tells about this diaspora.”
When guests arrive at Third Culture Bakery, they are greeted with whimsical decorations, pink lighting, and countless pastries ready to be wrapped and sealed with a pride flag sticker.
“We both came out to our families at the start of Third Culture,” Shyu recalled.
“When I came out, they took it really badly, and so my relationship with my family doesn’t exist,” Butarbutar explained. “We made a conscious decision to turn our bakery into a safe space where people can feel welcome, whatever your orientations, whatever your ethnicities.”
He added, “People are really resonating with it and telling us their story and their struggle, which makes me feel like this bakery has grown to be bigger than just muffins and donuts.”
Butarbutar and Shyu have the core values of inclusivity, acceptance and love embedded in Third Culture Bakery’s mission. The spot represents their chosen family, and they welcome everyone who walks through the doors to be a part of that family.
“We lead with our truth, and we lead with what we want to do on our own terms,” Shyu said. “I really hope that our little pastries that we make can hopefully change something and change something for the better.”
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