Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: Inspirational Bakeries
By Bakers Journal
Last year marked a very different “Jake the Baker” contest. Founding Sponsor, Ardent Mills and the judges had selected the winner, but unlike every year since its inception, the winner had to keep mum much, much longer.
Under normal circumstances, the winning bakery is selected in the spring, and instructed not to share the news until they appear on the cover of Bakers Journal. The winning bakery, in this case, was St. Joseph Bakery of St. Catharines. The family-run bakery would have been invited to the Bakery Showcase in Toronto in May 2020. However, by March of 2020, the COVID pandemic had other plans. Poor Derek Kedzierski couldn’t share the good news to family, friends or clients for a month…then two months. Finally after eight months, the patient Kedzierski family was allowed to spill the beans, and see their bakery on the cover of Baker’s Journal. The bakery’s owners were good natured about the many delays; they themselves were unsure what the future would look like for the food industry. Many bakeries and delicatessens had to close off the indoor eating facilities, establish curbside pickup or consider delivery services. Last March, nobody knew what the year had in store.
The pandemic upended many people’s plans. The Bakery Showcase tentatively rescheduled the show, and the contest’s Founding Sponsor and judges looked forward to crowning the St. Joseph Bakery as a community champion. By August, the Showcase was rescheduled again, this time for September 2021. Nobody travelled or attended live trade shows for a year. Canada experienced lockdown after lockdown, but bakeries that had strong social media and community ties thrived. Smaller, newer companies struggled. This was the year that highlit the need for a strong web and social media presence for bakeries. Food industries that could pivot to meet local neighbourhood needs stood out, like Khaos Artisan Kitchen (August/September 2020.) Owner Kymm St-Amour turned the garage into a small farmer’s market, sold sourdough starter and gave online lessons and tips for home bakers. Innovation and quick response times were the defining factors for a bakery’s survival during the pandemic.
This year, Jake the Baker presents a new name but espouses the same values to its contest. The Inspirational Bakery continues its search for a baker or bakery that is creative with their baked goods, and also is considered a success in their community. How is your bakery involved in the neighbourhood? How do you connect with your clients? What inspired you to open a bakery in the first place? Put your thoughts to paper and enter the newly named “Inspirational Bakery Contest.” If you can’t think of ways you make a difference, ask your returning clients why they choose to come to you. Give a listen to Bakers Journal’s “On The Rise” podcasts, and listen to the shortlisted entries. Learn from the stories that caught the Founding Sponsor’s eyes and tugged at readers hearts; you might be inspired enough to share your story, and become 2021’s Inspirational Bakery. / BJ