Business and Operations
By Doug Picklyk
On a rainy Saturday in September I made my way to Goodwood, Ont., a small community north of Toronto, to witness what may go down in the book of Guinness World Records as the largest tart ever baked.
Marco Cassano, the owner of Annina’s Bake Shop and Café in Goodwood, hosted the event. Cassano was out to smash the existing record set in 2008 for a plum tart baked in France that weighed 4,800 pounds.
Cassano’s all-Canadian butter tart was baked in the shop’s parking lot using a custom-fabricated 16-foot-diameter and one-foot-deep tart pan. He fashioned a convection oven with four gas-fired heating fans blowing into a sheetrock enclosure topped with metal (it required a crane to lift off the top). With support from Olympic Wholesale and an entire team of suppliers including ADM, Bunge, Burnbrae Farms, Embassy Flavours, Gay Lea and Lantic among others, Cassano produced a tart that weighed in at 8,500 pounds.
When asked why he was doing this? Cassano explained: “Every year we do something for the Children’s Wish Foundation charity, and this year it was about doing something fun.” He intended on selling off the large butter tart by the pound with money going to the charity. Unfortunately the weather played havoc with the timing, and the tart wasn’t completely cooked until late into the night. So Annina’s sold its in-store tarts, three-for-$5, with all the money going to the charity.
“The nice thing was seeing all of the people from the community come out despite the rains,” says Cassano. He estimates that over the course of the day between 1,500 and 2,000 people made their way to the bakery to see the tart baking in action.
Being involved in the community and drawing attention to bakeries sends a positive message for the industry, and it’s not only small town shops that get involved in record-breaking events. Also in September, Canada Bread took part in its parent company Grupo Bimbo’s Guinness World Records attempt to set the mark for the most 10-km running races held on one day around the world.
The Canadian editions of the Global Energy Race were held in Calgary and Hamilton. Canada Bread partnered with local food banks to donate two slices of bread for every kilometre completed by participants. In all, races were held in 36 cities across 21 countries with over a million slices of bread headed to food banks across the globe.
In another charitable endeavour, for the month of October Canada’s ACE Bakery teamed up with the Hero Certified Burger chain of restaurants in Ontario in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. ACE developed a pink burger bun using colour from all-natural beet juice. As part of the campaign, for every pink bun sold a dollar went to the breast
Using creativity and drive, these bakeries provide examples of community outreach that also gives back. As of press time I still hadn’t heard if Annina’s butter tart had made it into the book of Guinness World Records. If not, Cassano says he’s willing to try again. But either way he’ll definitely be cooking up something to bring out the crowds in Goodwood again next year.