Bakers Journal

Editor’s Letter: March 2017

February 23, 2017
By Brian Hartz

It’s Time to Brag

I know, I know. I lived in Canada long enough to know that Canadians are not, in general, a boastful people – despite being responsible for myriad noteworthy feats across a dizzying array of human endeavours.

I could list some of those accomplishments here, but then there wouldn’t be space for any other content in the magazine.

However, there comes a time when hard work and sacrifice – and the achievements and success that spring forth from them – should be recognized, and that time is now. Bakers Journal’s annual Jake the Baker contest is in full swing, and we want to hear from you.

We want to hear how and why you got into the business of baking. We want to hear why you’re passionate about being the best baker or pastry chef you can be. We want to hear why your customers love your products and keep coming back for more. We want to hear how and why you failed, but also the lessons you learned from failure that made you even better at what you do and contributed to the success you’re experiencing today.


I like to think back to early 2015, during my previous stint as interim editor of Bakers Journal, when we were judging entries submitted for the inaugural Jake the Baker contest. We received dozens of amazing, heartfelt missives from bakers across Canada, making their case for why they should win.

Maybe “bragging” isn’t the right term for what those bakers were doing in their contest entries. After all, if you’re plainly stating facts and telling the truth, you’re not really bragging or boasting.

Whittling down all of those entries to a top three, and then a winner and runner-up, was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve had to do in my professional career. Luckily, I had some help from our sales manager, Stephanie Jewell, as well as a baking industry veteran who was able to offer expert insights.

Finally, somehow, we were able to reach a consensus: Daniel Vokey, owner of Patisserie Daniel in Victoria, B.C., was our winner. Vokey’s account of his struggles on the path to phenomenal baking-industry success connected with us, and when I reached him by phone to interview him after he won the award, he turned out to be a treasure trove of hard-won pearls of wisdom.

“When you experience failures in business decisions, they don’t always become failures, because you learn something,” he told me. “But if you are like an ostrich and ignore your failures, then they become problems.”

Truer, more inspirational words were likely never spoken. That attitude of learning from failure is also embodied by Joanna Schultz, founder and owner of Pikanik in South Surrey, B.C. Schultz was our runner-up for the Jake the Baker Award in 2015, and lo and behold, she took the close-but-no-cigar finish in stride, entered again the next year, and wound up winning.

Who will win the award in 2017? It could be you! Thanks to the generosity of our Platinum Plus sponsor, Ardent Mills, and Gold sponsor, Reiser, the Jake the Baker Award recipient will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Bakery Congress in Vancouver in April. He or she will also receive a cover story in Bakers Journal, a plaque, and a surprise gift from
Jake the Baker himself!

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s hear a little bragging – it’s OK, really! Visit for contest details and to enter. Good luck!

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