Editor's Letter: August-September 2018

What’s the big idea
Naomi Szeben
August 10, 2018
Written by
What’s the big idea?” asks a Looney Tunes cartoon character, in the face of a crackpot scheme or ridiculous situation. Even those of us who are not animated characters, “What’s the big idea?” is an incredulous response to the new and unfamiliar. We cringe or laugh at what we consider strange, but what if that strangeness is inspiration in disguise?

In this issue, we spoke to people with big ideas, who broke from tradition and created something new. This edition is for people who are considering jumping ship and leaping into the uncharted waters of entrepreneurship. These business owners ignored the doubting voices inside their heads (and some actual skeptics) to make their ideas a reality.

I’ve learned from Sabine Veit, the two-time winner of Deloitte’s “Best Managed Company in Canada” award, on what sets a winning bakery apart from the rest. She started Bäckerhaus Veit with seed money from her father, and now operates a national company that makes bread for multiple markets.

European chimney cakes are taking off in North America. This trend wouldn’t have made its way across borders, if not for Kristin and Justin Butler, who were inspired by the sight of them grilling on their rods during on a vacation in Hungary. The couple saw Kürtöskalács as a sweet alternative to ordinary cones, and introduced them with success to those who like cake and ice cream.

I was intrigued by the story of maverick doughnut makers who are shaking up the East Coast with their innovative flavours: Nicole Tufts and Sonia Mota gave up financial security and dependable jobs to chase their sugar-frosted dreams. Going with their gut has paid off in spades. Vandal Doughnuts has appeared on national television, for delicious and sometimes cheeky creations, but the couple doesn’t let their shop’s popularity go to their heads. These vandals steal hearts as they raise funds for their local food bank, and their goodwill has earned them new popularity – enough for a second location.

There’s an art to creating and organizing a popular charity event, and it takes more than goodwill. New York City hosted a Chocolate Chip Cookie-off that raised so much money for food banks that Sol Orwell knew he had to launch it in Canada. Orwell, the organizer behind Toronto’s first Chocolate Chip Cookie-Off successfully pitted professional bakers alongside gifted amateurs…and nobody complained. How do you create an event that engages the public and generates big buzz? It could have turned out to be a half-baked affair, but the final result was more lucrative than the charities – and Orwell – expected.

Bakers who are thinking of getting into the field of cannabis-related edibles may need to hold off on that pipe dream until next year. While legislation to legalize personal consumption of cannabis will be formalized by the Canadian government in the near future, bakers and catering companies cannot yet sell any food products that contain THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Jane Dummer has more on her article on Cannabis edibles in her column, The Final Proof.

Those who have followed their big dreams with equally big plans learned from their mistakes, but eventually saw their business succeed. To paraphrase Winston Churchill (a man who loved ice cream with chocolate ganache, and would surely have been a fan of Eva’s Chimneys) “big ideas are not to be feared, only fear itself.”
More in this category: « Innovation in Milan

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