Fort St. John residents are already lining up to hand over their dough for bakery fresh bread.
Annamarie Desfosses, 23, regretfully turns away groups of customers from the door of Baked Pastry and Bake Shop several times an hour, promising the rustic, barn-shaped store will be in business soon. Desfosses said she hopes to open Fort St. John’s first standalone bakery in 30 years by today, or at least some time this week.
“I wanted to bring in a Parisian style, from-scratch bakery,” Desfosses said. “I couldn’t really work in one of the grocery stores here to offer that to Fort St. John.”
Desfosses studied baking and pastries at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver. She said she plans to use as many local ingredients as possible.
City Councillor and unofficial historian Larry Evans figures the last time Fort St. John had an independent bakery was in 1973 with Polka Dot Bakery. The first-ever local bakery was Spicer’s, established in 1949 in the village of Fort St. John by the Spicer family. Frank Spicer would become the first mayor when Fort St. John became a city in 1955.
“Spicer’s was big because you couldn’t buy donuts anywhere else,” Evans said. “They had everything. Bread, donuts, long johns.”
He said he fears for the concept of the standalone bakery, but thinks the community will enjoy its presence.
“When you go to other communities our size, or smaller, they have one or two bakeries,” Evans said.
“We have PriceSmart, you got a bakery at Sobeys, they all have bakeries and supply you with anything you want. And there’s Tim Horton’s with every donut in the world, and we have two of them. I can see the bakery going to way of the dodo, the 8-track – but anyway I’m glad to see one opening.
“The smell alone when you walk in, if you weren’t hungry you will be immediately when you smell it. That’s gonna be cool.”
Conny Rorh, owner of Old Fashioned Bakery in Dawson Creek, said bakery fresh bread made without common additives and preservatives should not be dismissed.
“I think it you buy a regular loaf of bread at the grocery store and look at the ingredients, there’s sugar and dairy in it,” Rorh said. “You don’t need those things.
“Lots of people have wheat allergy, but I think it’s not actually the wheat that makes them sick, it’s more the other preservatives and ingredients when they eat bread, and pasta and everything. With allergies, they can be sure if they buy bread at the bakery they know what’s in it.”
Rorh added bakeries that use as many local ingredients as possible not only allow consumers to know what goes into their food, but also reduce pollution.
“I think it’s better because it’s made fresh and doesn’t travel far, it’s better for the environment because we don’t ship it all over the place and we use the flour the closest we can get it.”
Desfosses said managing all the equipment, making sure all the equipment she needs is available, and operating properly, makes her nervous. But apart from the predictable stresses of starting a new business, Desfosses said she is mainly excited to start supplying goodies.
“That’s the easy part,” she laughed. “I’m confident in the product we’re going to offer and I’m confident the people I’m training will be able to put out what we need to put out. I want to be able to keep up with demand and I hope there’s a lot of it. I like to be on my toes.”