Benjamin Manea. March 9, 1957 – June 15, 2019.

Ben was born in Romania and raised in Israel. He emigrated to Toronto in 1999 where he met his wife Sharon, moving with her to the Okanagan in 2005. He left a technical career to follow his passion for excellent baking and food, teaching himself old-school artisan bread baking (many of Walla’s gluten-intolerant customers could eat his breads, including some Celiacs) and cooking so he could bring the flavours of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods to his new home in the South Okanagan.

Ben passed away on June 15, 2019 due to complications from ALS. His obituary is here. He was working at the bakery right up until his passing. Walla opened in 2007 and closed permanently on June 22, 2019. If you would like to share a story or memory about Walla please visit our Facebook page:

“It is my good luck that, although this has happened to me, I can bear it without pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearful of the future. Because such a thing could have happened to any man, but not every man could have borne it without pain. So why see more misfortune in the event than good fortune in your ability to bear it?” – Ben, June 9, 2019.

“It takes more than an oven to craft a true artisan bread. It takes time… patience… and passion!”
Hands that fix airplanes and knead dough
hands that roll into each other hands
that gesture that lift and carry that wave
at the end of arms that extend
from a body that came from a place
with recipes with a yeast of a thought
that proofed without embellishment,
hands that carry blood and veins
and heat and sweat and static,
that know touch is a signal
for time because time is fiction
and the hands are now baking still
and moving to their own wild tune and touch
A poem about Ben called 'Hands,' written just after his ALS diagnosis
By the poet Ronna Bloom

Ben’s final public lecture on April 9, 2018, in which he describes his 7 day fermentation process which extracted tremendous flavour from the dough, and allowed those with gluten intolerance (including many customers with Celiac disease) to eat his breads.

Ban Manea
The End of a Journey
If You Only Knew… Part 5 (Epilogue)
If You Only Knew… Part 4 (Rite of Passage)
If You Only Knew… Part 3 (Coming to Canada)
If you Only Knew… Part 2
If You Only Knew… Part 1

Here are some photos of the many memories and tastes of Walla over the years. And here is a playlist of some of Ben’s favourite Walla music to accompany them:

PLAYLIST: Memories of Ben and Walla Bakery