Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: Inspirational Bakeries
By Bakers Journal
The contest formerly known as the Jake the Baker contest changed its name to the Inspirational Bakery contest, but its values and criteria remained the same. The Founding Sponsor, Ardent Mills, carried on the tradition of having the previous year’s winner, Derek Kedzierski of the St. Joseph Bakery co-judge. Judges looked for a bakery that was innovative, and told a story that demonstrated its connection to its clients and community. Everyone on the panel was very interested in what the entries had to say, and the story of this year’s winner, Mark Burton of Best Kind Bakeshop, was very relatable.
Elaine O’Doherty, Marketing Manager, Canada, at Ardent Mills, particularly liked how Burton’s bare-bones operating schedule minimized waste, reduced inventory for unconsumed food and ran the bakery on a hyper-efficient mode. “There is professionalism behind it,” explained O’Doherty. “It’s a great story for the times we’re living in: it’s about the loss of a job and how he found something to pivot to, and then became successful with it.”
Reid McEachran, Marketing Associate for Ardent Mills, was enthused with the Best Kind’s innovative use of its website to reach out to new and existing clients. “It’s just so cool because it’s a passion project turned professional business. [Burton’s] just a guy who started making bread for his friends because he wanted to spread some joy. And then it turned into this full awesome business.” What appealed to the contest’s Founding Sponsor was the environmental ethos behind the bakery. “It’s really impressive that every week they update the website; pictures of the new product they’re going to make, as they make them all to order. You know they’re really focusing on the environment and not generating any waste.”
Food entrepreneurs love hearing about businesses that have struggled but regained footing. Bakers are creative by nature, and are inspired by stories of those who have found an innovative solution to a problem or changed their operating model on a dime. Best Kind’s story will keep you vested in Burton’s struggle, and you’ll celebrate his clever business pivot.
Burton had lost his job, and instead of taking this situation sitting down, he rolled up his sleeves and started baking.
There were so many stories that appealed to the judges. As every year, it was a challenge to choose only one. Kedzierski was particularly impressed with two Canadian bakeries. He was moved by the story behind Dinah’s Sourdough. “Starting a farmers market in your parking lot to help support local farmers! Hats off for community support. We have a great infrastructure in Niagara to get farmers to market, but even with it, there are still several famers who don’t have a way to get their products into the hands of the end consumer! Dinah’s identified a community need, and helped solve it and is expanding on it!”
Kedzierski related to a Montreal doughnut shop’s entry: “DoughNats thinks like me…. Support the people who support you. In these times, so many people were impacted during the pandemic. Although essential, us bakeries were also impacted. To have continued supporting people and causes without turning anyone aside is an amazing thing!”
As a man who works from his heart, Kedzierski particularly liked how DoughNats owner Nathalie Kaspy-Shtern listened to hers. “She took a leap and started a new destination in Montreal. In a city where there is so much competition, it is truly amazing you can rise and become a star so quickly.”
With so many heartfelt, inspiring stories, it says something that Best Kind Bakeshop was selected as the winner. The Bakeshop’s name comes from Newfoundland’s lingo: “Best Kind” is a synonym for “the tops,” or “just great.” “How are you feeling today?” “I’m best kind, never been better,” his website explains. Burton’s winning entry was truly the best kind of heartwarming story. Bakers Journal wishes the bakeshop every success!