Goodbye to Bob Moore, Whose Red Mill Changed the Way We Bake

Bon Appétit

You probably recognize Bob Moore’s face from the package of every Bob’s Red Mill product—he’s the guy with the white beard and friendly smile. After falling in love with stone-milling at their family farm, Moore founded the company with his wife in 1978 in Oregon City, Oregon. The brand, which is known for its wide range of flours and alternative grains, is now in grocery stores across the country. On February 10, Moore died at 94, the company announced. He is survived by his sister, Jeannie, his three sons Ken, Bob Jr., and David, and his grain company, which has been employee-owned since 2010.

Senior test kitchen editor Shilpa Uskokovic reflects on the ways Bob’s Red Mill made specialty grains and flours more accessible, and the impact he had on American baking culture.

I only met Bob Moore once, during a Zoom cooking class in 2023. He didn’t say much, but I remember recognizing the same white hair and bearded face from the package of his products. I remember thinking, How many times have I seen that face in grocery store aisles? It was impressive, I thought, that the founder of this huge company would still take the time to be at this cooking class with nine chefs.

Moore’s passing this week made me think of the first time I found Bob’s Red Mill products in my local grocery store way back in 2013. I was struck by just how many products this single company offered. That was when I was working in restaurants such as Jean-Georges and Marea, and I remember being shocked to see the same ingredients we used in a professional kitchen, like xanthan gum, right there on the shelf. It sat next to the niche grains and hard-to-find flours like amaranth and hazelnut flour that, previously, were mostly confined to health food stores.

I’m certainly not the only baker or cook to have a moment like that—and that’s what’s most impressive about the company. It made alternative flours and gluten-free baking accessible to more people. In the years before Bob’s Red Mill was widely available, rice flour was one of the only gluten-free flours on shelves. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that there wouldn’t be the same momentum and community behind gluten-free baking that we have today were it not for Bob’s Red Mill products. By making products like coconut flour, tapioca starch, egg replacer, and millet flour easily accessible to most home bakers, Bob’s Red Mill made it possible for gluten-free and vegan baking cultures to really thrive.

Beyond making gluten-free baking easy, Bob’s Red Mill has been instrumental in making it fun. Alternative flours to use in gluten-free bakes can actually enhance the flavor of the final product. Whereas options used to be limited, Bob’s Red Mill has allowed bakers to find the flour that brings a new layer of flavor into their cooking. Buckwheat flour, for instance, can add a sturdy nuttiness to your bake, while teff flour is one of my favorites for pairing with chocolate in recipes.

Moore may have passed away, but his legacy will live on in every gluten-free buckwheat cake or batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies I bake.


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Author:Shilpa Uskokovic, as told to Sam Stone | Website:www.bonappetit.com

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