Bakers Journal

Bakery Showcase buzz

May 27, 2022
By Colleen Cross

Bakery Showcase 2022 was the setting for long-overdue industry connections

Bakers were ready to discover new trends, new products, new equipment and new acquaintances. all PHOTOS: jean ko din, BAKERS JOURNAL

Bakery Showcase 2022 was the place to be for Canadian baking professionals. Between the well-attended education sessions, the busy trade show floor and the main stage, attendees had no shortage of ways to connect, learn and be inspired.

The Baking Association of Canada welcomed well over 1,500 attendees plus speakers, staff, sponsors and exhibitors.

Education sessions kicked off with a well-attended Baking Association of Canada annual general meeting in which the board executive outlined ambitious plans for membership expansion and government advocacy. An equally full and lively panel of experts in the fields of government grants, human resources and automation shared information with bakery owners and operators eager for ideas on how to attract and retain staff. Both sessions were interactive and great forums for follow-up networking. 

Communication important to your business
Keynote speaker Justine Martin, owner of Guilty Pleasures Bakeshop in Sudbury, Ont., shared practical advice on how to improve and make the most of communication skills including leveraging earned media to promote your bakery. Martin, who had considerable professional experience in communications before starting her baking career, described why these skills are crucial to a bakery’s success. 

Attendees were treated to an in-depth conversation with Mahathi Mundluru, finalist on the Great Canadian Baking Show, where she described what it was like to bake competitively under pressure and delved into the thought process behind some of her innovative flavour profiles.

“Whenever I think about any ingredient, I think about what is the flavour profile of that ingredient? And then I’ll think, what do I need to balance it? Do I need an acid, do I need salt, do I need bitterness, right? For instance . . . to balance that [bitter melon] out, you need a little bit of acidity, you need a little bit of sugar.”

“I was trying to tell a story with my bakes, whether it was stories of my travels, or of my family, or of my personality. I’ve always tried to incorporate a part of me, which I think made it a lot more fun for me to do because it’s essentially like I can tell my story through my food.”

Tackling staffing challenges
A panel of experts came at the issue of “Thriving in a Labour Shortage” from different perspectives, all providing useful insights and strategies. 

The focus was on how to get grants and other recuperating funds for your bakery, how to find and keep skilled employees and how automation can help your bakery be efficient and less dependent on skilled labour.

Bonny Koabel, CPA, CGA, said many bakeries aren’t aware there are grants available to help them recoup some of the costs associated with staffing, including grants to help pay student tuition and grants to help bakeries automate. Koabel is president of AKR Consulting Canada, which specializes in government grants, subsidies and tax credits. 

Doug Henderson, regional sales manager for Apex Motion Control, emphasized that people will be the one topic constantly on the table at every company in every industry. Henderson said automation is an option bakery businesses of all sizes might consider to fill the jobs he describes as the “three Ds: dirty, dull and dangerous.” 

Karen Horton is a recruitment specialist helping businesses connect with the right talent for managerial needs as well as a hiring coach to franchise owners and independents. Horton said it’s time to turn from “the Great Retirement” to “the Great Retention” by focusing on the needs of employees, including offering them moral support, being flexible and making their mental health a priority for the business.

Plant-based business primer
Jessica Nadel of Beard’s Bakery in Thunder Bay, and Tijana Bogdanovic of Twenty1 Desserts in Bowmanville, Ont., have successfully served a market seeking better-for-you plant-based bakery treats and shared their experiences with other bakers.

Attendees learned why all bakeries should care about the plant-based market, what the main considerations are for a bakery or bakery-café to get started offering plant-based products without necessarily going 100 per cent plant-based. With care, a hybrid-approach possible.

Baking with cannabis panel
Moderator Jean Ko Din talked with a panel about the difference between CBD and THC, the implications of using them in edible goods, how and why bakers may want to experiment with baking with cannabis.

Chef Don Gingrich underlined the importance of understanding what cannabis is in its raw form versus its decarboxylated form. “When you’re receiving raw cannabis in its raw form it’s THC, so it’s an acidic form. It needs to turn into its alkaline form and the only way we do that is through heat and time,” said Gingrich, a cannabis cooking and infusion educator, edibles consultant and certified chef who sat on the Canadian Standards Council for the regulation of cannabis edibles. “Those are the two things that can then take that acid and turn it into an alkaloid. We’re not limited to just using flour now for edibles: there are so many other products, extracts, distillates and isolates.”

Andy Deonarine consults with Ontario retailers and companies that trade on the Canadian Stock Exchange and now oversees CannSell, the sole mandated certification program for all cannabis retail employees in Ontario. Deonarine said the cannabis market for edibles is quite hot: “I think opening it up for restaurateurs to provide cannabis infused experience at the culinary level is needed in Canada. I think it’s a great option not only to provide a safe experience, but also to provide an experience for people to consume cannabis beyond smoking. There are many people doing this, at such a high level where you can sit down and have an experience that not only makes you feel good, but that tastes amazing.” 

Chef Patrick Newton is a classically trained chef who regularly bakes with cannabis: One of his favourite recipes is gougères, or cheese puffs, which he demonstrated at the main stage that day. “It’s light, it’s airy. It’s, it’s easy to conceal. You can dose it out. So I think that’s a very tangible way of conserving its potency.”

Talking trends
Readers of Jane Dummer’s Final Proof column got a treat as the Registered Dietitian and longtime columnist presented a look ahead at baking trends and suggested ways you can act on these shifts in the market to ensure your bakery or bakery-café thrives into the future. From e-commerce and added nutrition to emotional well-being and good for the planet, the well-connected Pod to Plate Food Consultant shared why these trends are important to your bakery and how to make the most of these growing opportunities.

Buzzing show floor
On the show floor, attendees enjoyed demonstrations at the main stage. Baking professionals learned edible image techniques they could use to create impressive designs on cakes and cookies for corporate clients (with award-winning cake artist Justine Martin), professional techniques for shaping and scoring your artisan bread (with Master Baker Marcus Mariathas) and how to bake sweet profiteroles or savoury gougères while better understanding the relationship of fats to cannabinoids (with Chef Patrick Newton of the Food Network).

Fans of Anna Olson had the perfect chance to meet the well-respected baker, author and television star at the BAC’s booth where Olson signed copies of her newest book.

Attendees discuss the newest baking equipment with a representative from Rheon. ALL PHOTOS: JEAN KO DIN, BAKERS JOURNAL

National recognition
The industry received recognition on a national scale when Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Food and Agriculture and a member of the standing committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, opened the show on Day 2 and met with BAC Executive Director Martin Barnett to discuss issues of importance to the industry.

Westside Bakery of Edmonton was revealed as our new Inspirational Bakery of the Year! Bakers Journal and founding sponsor Ardent Mills together congratulate Leeanne Tucker, president of wholesale commercial bakery that grew out of a desire to chase a dream and snowballed when Tucker and husband and business development and marketing manager Travis Blake, put their focus squarely on the community. Learn more about this bakery with heart in the July edition.

Attendees inspired
Judging by the buzz on the show floor, Bakery Showcase 2022 was proof positive that in-person events are essential.

“The event was fabulous!” said Dinah Hamed, who wears many hats as bread baker, pastry chef, master of education student and Red Seal Baker-Patissier candidate. “I had a wonderful time and thank you again for inviting me to join the education session!”

Attendee Susan Cavanaugh, who recently started her own business, Bake and Create, in Windsor, Ont., said, “It is so helpful to find all of the products I learned about at school in one place. I need the full two days to take it all in.”

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