New equipment is barely installed and it’s already working overtime at Gala Bakery. Some new machinery to ramp up production is still on its way, but owner Jacqueline Janosevic isn’t waiting around.

She’s searching for more customers for her rapidly growing company’s line of European-style baked goods. The first order to Loblaws has just been delivered out of Gala’s plant on Hempstead Drive on the east Mountain.

And workers are churning out-box upon box of burek, a traditional stuffed pastry popular in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa.

They are destined for Costco stores all over Ontario.

Janosevic says Gala’s burek is unique because it’s hand-tossed. The technique is so specialized, she has to bring bakers from Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. No machine can replicate the method.

A baker smears some shortening on a large table and presses out dough for the burek with his fingers until it looks something like a pizza crust. Then he takes the dough into both hands and waves it like a cape over his head three times. It slaps back to the table in a paper-thin sheet. He folds it four ways, almost like an envelope and sets it aside. He repeats the action with a new section of dough, but this time he wraps the first “envelope” inside the other.

He applies a generous helping of a ricotta and feta cheese mixture before wrapping the entire thing in one more layer of dough. It’s plopped into a metal tin and frozen right away.

Janosevic says burek can be eaten for breakfast with plain yogurt, with smoked meats as an appetizer, or as a meal with a salad. Gala makes versions in apple and spinach flavours that are sold in small independents, including her own east-end bakery.

I have four more flavours in my head, but I don’t have enough people to make it as it is,” said the 42-year-old mother of two. “That’s frustrating, to have the customers and the product but not the people to make it.

B821714622Z.1_20140915173216_000_G3J1AQTNE.2_ContentGala moved into its 11,000-square-foot space in May after seriously outgrowing a shop in the industrial area of Stoney Creek. Expanded production and new customers have spurred Gala to double its workforce to 13 this year. And Janosevic hopes to hire another 10 to 15 in the next year.

Though big orders are starting to arrive, sales to local independents such as Lococo’s and Starsky Fine Foods have always been crucial.

You need to make sure you keep all your customers happy because those big orders can disappear. Between Kitchener, Windsor and Toronto, we sell to about 40 independent shops.

Janosevic is effusive in her praise of investments made in her business by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The most recent, a $241,000 matching grant under the Local Food Fund, allowed her to buy the new equipment, including a cutter for slicing cakes and a divider that measures, cuts and shapes balls of dough.

We were able to purchase equipment we could never buy otherwise,” she said.

Gala Bakery is hosting an open house Tuesday for customers and VIPs to showcase its new facility and equipment.

We want to show our customers what we can do. I meet with them at trade shows or their own facilities but to have trust in us and what we do, we think they should come here.

B821714622Z.1_20140915173216_000_G3J1AQTMH.2_ContentJanosevic’s history in the food business goes back to 2000 when she and her husband Aleksandar bought a European deli on Queenston Road near Nash. She was still working as sales manager for the former Royal Connaught hotel.

Two years later they bought Glendale Bakery on Quigley Road though Janosevic admits she knew nothing about baking. But the couple used family recipes and soon saw the market for wholesaling its products. In 2008, the couple bo

Bought a 3,500-square-foot production facility in Stoney Creek.

“It seems little now, but then we were saying, ‘What are we going to do with this place?’

Since 2002, sales have grown 450% and Gala landed contracts with Fortinos, Sobeys, Highland Farms, Longos and a range of independents.

Gala has developed partnerships with large suppliers and distributors, including BakeMark. Part of that relationship has BakeMark helping with research and development on new products.

Those include a new line of cakes, with flavours such as lemon-raspberry poppyseed, spiced pumpkin and key lime coconut.

“We always have to be different. There are a lot of big guys out there, like Oakrun and Canada Bread,” said Janosevic, mentioning two local powerhouses.

 “Our niche is the specialty European products.”