Bakers Journal

Owning the podium

April 22, 2010
By Tuija Seipell

The Olympics were like a huge, festive cake. Many small, well-perfected
steps and carefully selected ingredients created an incredible

The Olympics were like a huge, festive cake. Many small, well-perfected steps and carefully selected ingredients created an incredible showpiece. On a massive scale, the Olympics were a celebration of detail, of small stories adding up to one Big Deal.

Golden Crust co-owner Patricia Yendall, centre, with visiting bakers from Norway’s Din Baker chain.

For some local bakery businesses, the Olympics were amazingly good, for others, insignificant, and for some, a disappointment.


Tiny Golden Crust Specialties in Squamish – between Whistler and Vancouver – was one of the bakeries that changed everything for the duration of the Games. Bakers from Norwegian Din Baker chain chose Golden Crust as the facility at which to bake the traditional thrice-daily bread for Norway’s 100 athletes and 200 support staff present at the Games. They also brought more than 3,500 kilograms of ingredients from Norway. Norwegian teams have brought their own bakers to the Olympics and World Championships since 1988.

Each day at Golden Crust, four Norwegian bakers baked about 120 loaves of four different kinds of rich, dark bread that combined hearty ingredients such as rye, oats, barley and buckwheat. They also baked celebration cakes for medal winners and sweet buns.

Golden Crust’s owners, husband and wife Wade and Patricia Yendall, say they loved every aspect of the experience.

A cake by Trumps Fine Food for the Olympics closing ceremony.

“Our company is a true mom-and-pop operation, but professional, as I have over 20 years’ experience as a pastry chef and Wade was a banquet manager with Fairmont Hotels,” Patricia says. “I think this appealed to the Norwegian company, as did our kitchen and product. It really was a good partnership, they were respectful of our business, and I think we will be seeing them again.”

The Yendalls prepared by pre-baking as much as possible.

“Before their arrival, we did a huge amount of prep and froze unbaked product, such as our fruit and meat pies, cookie dough, and everything that could be prepared ahead of time,” Patricia says. “In the mornings, I would come in before them and bake items for the store shelves. They also added their bread and sweet buns to our shelves for us to sell at no cost to us. They also paid a daily amount for the use of the kitchen.”

Articles in the local newspaper and the Vancouver Sun drove a substantial amount of new customers into the store. Overall, Golden Crust’s business more than doubled during the Games.

“It was a good atmosphere and we got along great,” Patricia says. “They enjoyed eating our product and we watched and learned how to make their bread and sweet buns. They were a big hit with the customers and would come out to speak with many of them, which the customers loved. Their whole-grain breads were very popular and we continue to make them daily as they left us their recipes and lots of ingredients. They also left us a brand-new bread slicer they purchased.”

At Pane e Formaggio, Vancouver-based wholesale bakery with one retail store, owner David Nonni says that the Olympics were a “totally positive experience” for the company.

“Getting to and from work was not a problem and our deliveries could not have been any smoother,” he says. “Our retail business increased over February last year, and in fact, I was surprised to see by how much. Our wholesale business was also up over February last year. It was a pleasant surprise.”

Effat Sedky of Vancouver Croissant, a highly specialized wholesale bakery of organic, certified organic and natural croissants, was expecting a sales increase but it did not materialize.

“Our sales more than doubled for two customers in the downtown and Granville Island area, but decreased by about 60 per cent overall for customers in the Vancouver area,” he says.

Sedky and his team ended up with “freezers full of short-lived products” that they had stocked up on in anticipation of increased demand. But Sedky still feels positive about the effect of the Games.

“While the Olympics did not benefit our business as we expected, it was a lot of fun and excitement for everybody,” he says. “I am sure Vancouver will benefit tremendously for years to come.”

Heather Angel, managing director of Vancouver-based wholesaler Trumps Fine Food, is extremely happy with Trumps’ Olympic results. “Our sales were up 47 per cent over the same period last year. We did better than we expected,” she says.

Trumps serviced its regular clients and several Olympics-specific clients in both Vancouver and Whistler. It also provided desserts for the two Live City sites in Vancouver. One of the reasons Trumps’ sales increased even more than Angel anticipated was that several clients, including Sodexo Canada, increased their orders and added items as the Games progressed. These added items included a large number of specialty cakes for athletes, staff and officials for various celebrations and also for the closing ceremonies in both cities.

Inukshuk chocolates by Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates.

Richmond, B.C.-based DC DUBY Wild Sweets expected to conduct chocolate demonstrations during the Olympics but that did not materialize due to the client’s decision to cut cost. Owners Dominique and Cindy Duby, who sell specialty chocolates directly on the company website to consumers and also wholesale, say that the Olympics did not have an effect on the company. Many of their retail clients that were not located near the main event sites or special attractions reported lower than normal sales. In contrast, those close to these sites, and the Dubys’ hotel clients in Whistler and Vancouver, had a significant increase in business.

 A cake by Trumps Fine Food for the Olympics closing ceremony.

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates supplied official Olympics clients but did not see increased sales at its two retail stores.

“We provided breakfast Viennoiseries to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for their daily morning meetings,” says Thomas Haas. “We also created some centrepieces for private events and catered an evening of chocolate for the VIPs and friends of the Shaw family at the Shaw Tower downtown.”

Haas also created three large chocolate inukshuk sculptures, one for each of his own stores and one for the Urban Fare store on Alberni Street in downtown Vancouver.

“It turned out that it was business as usual for us or rather a bit down due to the fact that everyone was so busy with the Games or left town,” Haas says. “But we did have a great time! I think it was the best thing what could happen to Vancouver. I was so proud to call myself ‘Canadian’ and I can only imagine how much of an impact it had worldwide.”

Tuija Seipell is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, corporate communicator and publicist with clients across North America and in Europe. Follow her on Twitter @TuijaSeipell.

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