Food Notes for November 22, 2021

Bonne Vie Bakery Celebrates First Birthday

Bonne Vie Bakery, which specializes in artisan sourdough bread, commemorated their first anniversary this month. Bonne Vie was a part of a large contingent of small businesses that opened during the pandemic after the province relaxed the rules around the preparation and sale of home-prepared low-risk foods in June 2020.

Owner Larry Harris started the microbakery in November 2020 after losing his job at MacEwan that summer, and the subsequent twelve months have been a whirlwind.

“I’m dumbfounded as to how well things have gone,” said Harris. “A year ago, we baked a dozen loaves of bread, and we wanted to see if people would pay money for it, and they did! Yesterday, we baked a record eighty loaves of bread.”

He credits the rise of social media platforms as one of the reasons for Bonne Vie’s success. “I don’t think I could have done this ten years ago,” said Harris. “But with Instagram in particular, it helps to spread the word about something and get you noticed.”

For Harris, it was also fortuitous that he landed a spot on the fourth season of CBC’s The Great Canadian Baking Show, which began airing in February 2021. “Before the show was announced we were selling out in two to three hours,” said Harris. “After the show, everything was selling out in fifteen minutes.”

His appearance on the show also led to a connection with Get Cooking Canada, where he was booked soon after to conduct online sourdough classes. It’s also fed back into his business in a number of ways, including being able to sell bread baking tools such as proofing baskets and bread bags to students through Bonne Vie directly, and creating new customers for his bread products. “It’s neat that the customers take the classes and learn how to make sourdough but they also keep buying bread every week,” said Harris.

Bonne Vie bread is also used to create Partake’s signature croque ‘mon’ soubise sandwich. After the restaurant’s previous supplier closed down, Harris met with owner Cyrilles Koppert about the potential partnership. “I had to make lots of practice loaves and finally got it right,” laughed Harris. Although the volume for the contract is modest, Harris is pleased with the validation. “This is a well-known restaurant saying they want your product,” said Harris.

Harris is keenly aware that his home kitchen cannot meet the increasing demands, but recognizes that a significant expansion has to make financial sense. A space they were interested in fell through over the summer, but they are in no rush to secure another spot. “The right space would allow me to substantially grow and have some employees and economies of scale, but it has to be the right place,” said Harris. “It’s hard to find that right community, and try to keep it close to where we are [now]. We have to think about the customer and how we want to serve them.”

For the holidays, Bonne Vie will be offering Christmas cookie boxes, and so far has had great feedback on a new hot chocolate mix they just added to their product line.

Harris is hopeful that Bonne Vie can continue into the future, but acknowledges the challenges of running a small business. “I’ve never been so happy when doing Bonne Vie and baking for people and seeing the joy of people getting their bread and breaking into it,” said Harris. “But it takes a lot of work for an individual to put themselves out there and create their dream. Support all of these little businesses that have started up – they need the support from the community.”

Openings

  • Halawa Lebanese Bakery is open at 9951 170 Street.
  • Food truck YEG Pizza on Wheels has moved into the Don Wheaton YMCA at 10211 102 Avenue.
  • Twins Restaurant, offering Chinese and Western cuisine, is now open at8331 Chappelle Way SW.

Upcoming Events

  • The Brick & Mortar Festival Vignettes Design Series now doesn’t have an opening date. Taproot wrote a feature about the event.
  • The Old Strathcona Business Association is hosting Winter Whyte Light Up on November 27, from 4-7pm, with entertainment, family activities, food vendors, and some farmers’ market vendors opening late that night.

Local News

  • Congratulations to The Butchery on their first birthday!
  • Kitchen by Brad is offering Stew/Soup & Bagel for lunch on Fridays from November 26-December 10, 2021. Their from-scratch bagels are also available by the half-dozen.
  • The latest Best Dish column features A Bite of Brazil.
  • Out of Bounds Restaurant located on Cattail Crossing, is drawing non-golfing diners in with a menu designed by Larry Stewart (formerly of Hardware Grill).
  • This year’s gingerbread house at Duchess is a recreation of Whoville from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. As in previous years, those who donate new underwear, socks, mittens, or warm hats for the Bissell Centre will be entered into a draw to win a chance to destroy the gingerbread structure. Co-owner Garner Beggs spoke to CBC about their fundraising drive.
  • Candid Coffee Roasters collaborated with Alley Kat Brewery to create Candid Coffee Porter.
  • Edmonton AM received lessons in Chai 101 from New Asian Village and in bubble tea from TeaCup2Go.
  • Chef Joakim Gomes is the new executive chef at The Westin.
  • There are many local businesses delivering or packaging goods for the holidays, including Bloom Cookie Co.’s cookie boxes, Roasti Coffee’s gift box with a portion of proceeds to be donated to CASA Foundation, social enterprise Edmonton Eats’ holiday cultural cooking boxes, cookbook, and spice blends, and the Sturgeon Hospital Community Foundation’s Stars Box featuring products from Meuwly’s, Jacek, and Riverbend Coffee Roasters, among others.
  • 10 year old Edmontonian Kyssara Mueller is hosting a cooking show on Telus Optik TV.
  • Julie Van Rosendaal talks about adapting recipes to potential supply chain-related shortages. Local shops Blush Lane and Earth’s General Store are warning about supply gaps in organic and natural foods.
  • The Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Castle Downs has started a “take-what-you-need, share-what-you-can” community pantry.

What I Ate

  • It’s great to see life again in the restaurant space at the Art Gallery of Alberta. May, from the folks behind Say Uncle and Chef Doreen Prei, opened last week. I was fortunate to have been hosted for a meal. Standout dishes included the Arctic char and the braised short rib (I love a good charred kale). Thee restaurant will also be open for brunch during the Downtown Business Association Holiday Light Up celebrations.
  • May

Cocktails at May

  • We tried Siam Thai Kitchen for the first time this weekend and it won’t be our last! The flavour of the pad Thai and tamarind shrimp were delicious, even after sitting in take-out containers for some time. Huge portions also meant enough for another meal the next day.
  • Siam Thai Kitchen

Order from Siam Thai Kitchen

  • We also ordered from Thamel Bistro. The transit time wasn’t as kind to the momos but we preferred the chicken to the pork filling.
  • Thamel Bistro

Meal from Thamel Bistro

  • We stopped by at Dalla’s A Mano Holiday Market on Saturday. It will be running again on December 4 and 18 from 11am-3pm, featuring vendors and roasted chestnuts.
  • Dalla

Elisa Zenari roasting chestnuts at Dalla

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