Archive for December, 2016

Diplomat Bakery

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

diplomat-bakery-steveston-insider-1Sweet Masterpieces Aplenty.

The baked goods look so tantalizing it is hard to know where to begin when you peek inside Diplomat Bakery’s glass display case laden with cakes and treats.

Do you choose a cinnamon bun, croissant, square or a slice of cake? Maybe you have a friend along to share tastes with, or perhaps you should select a cake to take home?

Whatever you decide, you know it’s going to be a guaranteed winner as no corners are cut or expense is spared on ingredients; real cream, butter and Belgian chocolate are all used to create these European style temptations.Mark Stenson Gerald StensonDiplomat Bakery is very much a family affair. Gerald Stenson, his wife Elizabeth and their son Mark are all actively involved in running the business. Their daughter Adele is a nurse and is a keen supporter of the family enterprise. She has played a key role in customer service and now helps contribute to product research and development.

Gerald is the pastry chef and Elizabeth is the bookkeeper. She holds a degree in food service administration and has financial accounting experience. Gerald adds fondly, “She’s a very integral behind-the-scenes part of the business.”

Mark has been helping out at the bakery since he was so small that he needed a box to stand on at the cash register. Now, with a diploma in accounting and a BBA degree in marketing under his belt, he assists with operations and marketing and is playing an active role in taking the business to the next level. He is very interested in product development and is proud of the success of introducing a seven-inch variation of their traditional nine-inch cake. He says, “Customers have responded well to this addition.”

The well-loved bakery recently reopened at their beautiful new location at London Station.

Situated across the street from their former London Road site, the new space is much more visible as the storefront is set closer to the street. In a smart business move, the Stensons purchased the space. It is slightly smaller than their previous location and conjures up memories of their original Steveston village shop on Moncton Street, which was in operation from 1994 to 2007.

diplomat-bakery-steveston-insider-2Their goal was to create a storefront as classy as the cakes for which they are known. They credit designer Lorraine Ilich for her assistance. Along the front window they have incorporated a twenty-foot counter made of stone with seating for customers to enjoy their coffee and treats and do a little people watching. A rolling garage door on the east side of the bakery will open during the summer months and there is plenty of space for outdoor patio seating.

“We were able to design the space from scratch and dress it up.” Mark Stenson

Aware that Diplomat Bakery is the only place to purchase coffee in the London Station area, they have stepped up their coffee service with a new espresso machine and have introduced locally roasted coffee by Oughtred Roasting Works. Their staff has been trained to make coffee to satisfy connoisseurs. Speciality drinks such as London Fog and chai lattes share the menu with favourite coffee standards.

Customers stop in to shop for their baked goods, and others pass by for a coffee and a treat en route to or from a walk or bike ride along the south dyke.

Gerald has been creating sweet masterpieces for Diplomat Bakery since it first opened in 1994.

Originally from Ireland, he has a lilt of an Irish accent that has morphed from time spent working as a pastry chef for Sheraton and Hilton hotels in Africa, Australia, Malaysia and the Middle East. He also worked in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Twenty-five years ago he moved to Canada with his wife Elizabeth and their two small children.

When Gerald arrived in Vancouver he discovered he was overqualified and had a hard time finding work. He worked in airline catering and then tried his hand at going into business wholesaling baked goods. He began by giving out samples of his delicious pastries and cakes to restaurants and he was on his way – they were hooked.

At one point, before Costco had their own in house bakery, Diplomat Bakery supplied three Costco locations as well as G.M. Place arena (they supplied the Canucks and Grizzlies teams and some special events). Gerald recalls creating a special rose dessert for Bette Midler in honour of her popular song.

After wholesaling got to be a bit much he decided to branch into retail. The business name came from a hotel Gerald and Elizabeth visited while they were working in Bahrain. Gerald explains, “We always felt Diplomat would be a nice name for a company. Also, we really enjoyed our time there and the staff were very kind.”

“I wake up in the morning and love going to work.” Gerald Stenson

diplomat-bakery-steveston-insider-3Diplomat Bakery has earned a reputation for its excellent cakes. Gerald lists the Diplomat, Red Velvet, Tiramisu and Triple Chocolate cakes as perennial favourites. Mark points out, “The tastes are true to their origin.” He remembers a customer saying, “This is what a Black Forest cake should taste like.”

They have regular customers who come for their chocolate fix. Some travel in from North Vancouver and Tsawwassen to visit their favourite bakery. Gerald recalls customers ordering cakes to take to Vancouver Island, across the border and even as far away as Hong Kong. He says, “We are very flattered people want to do that.”

Christmas is always a special time at Diplomat Bakery as seasonal goodies make their debut. Inside the display case you will find their popular three-inch mince pies, four varieties of tarts (almond, butter, coconut and pecan), stollen, shortbread (boxed makes a nice gift), gingerbread men (for kids of every size) and Yule logs.

This holiday season consider taking some of the pressure off and leave some of the baking to the experts at Diplomat Bakery.

Diplomat Bakery
6168 London Road
Richmond, BC V7E 3S3
Telephone: 604-241-9134
www.diplomatbakery.com

Pretty Things Florist & Designer Gifts

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

pretty-things-florist-steveston-insider-6 The Lovelier Things in Life. 

Janeil Mackay has always had an appreciation for pretty things. Wanting to share her passion for the lovelier things in life with her community, she recently opened a full service florist and gift store in Steveston.

Janeil’s diverse career has centred on retail and she has held some impressive positions in retail management with Helly Hansen and Nygard. Most recently she spent eight years as the Canucks Sports & Entertainment retail director.

She laughs when she mentions, “I wanted to move away from jerseys and hoodies and was inspired to open Pretty Things.”

Janeil_Mackay_Pretty_Things_Florist_StevestonPretty Things opened in 2015 at Oakridge Centre. When the shop’s short-term lease ended she chose to move the business to Steveston, where she lives with her husband and two children.

She discovered the gorgeous new retail space waiting to be leased on the corner of Bayview Street and Third Avenue (situated across from scenic Steveston Harbour) and knew it was the perfect home for Pretty Things. Bleached white flooring, large windows facing east, west and south flood the store with light, a 12 foot high ceiling that creates an airy feeling, three oversized white pendant lights (that resemble allium flowers) and a white brick wall all add to the charm.

An additional perk is the shop’s south facing patio. During the warmer months customers can sit in the sun and appreciate the waterfront backdrop while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea from the shop’s full service coffee bar.

“Retail is becoming all about the experience.” Janeil Mackay

Chai tea, lavender latte and red tea latte are some of the signature drinks on the menu. Customers enjoy this unique service, which enables them to either shop with a drink in hand, or simply sit down in the pretty atmosphere and relax with a coffee (there is also indoor seating). Janeil has noticed that a Sunday coffee crowd is developing.

A consultation room is set up at the back of shop to meet with brides and grooms to plan wedding flowers. In the short time the new location has been open (October 2016) she has already seen an increase in wedding consultations. In addition to wedding flowers, Pretty Things also offers floral installation services to an impressive list of corporate clients, realtors and developers who use the shop’s floral service to stage homes and send to clients as thank you gifts.

“It’s a beautiful space and the plants are thriving in the natural light.” Janeil Mackay

Pretty Things is known for its quality pre-made bouquets and arrangements. Customers also have the option of creating a custom bouquet by selecting flowers directly from the large cooler at the back of the shop.

Plants ranging from small succulents (perfect for offices or kitchen counters and bathrooms) to mid-sized houseplants and gorgeous orchids all have a home at Pretty Things. Janeil says indoor plants are seeing a surge in popularity not only for their aesthetics but also because they act as natural air purifiers.

Would you or someone you know love to receive fresh flowers on a regular basis? Pretty Things’ Flower Club may be just what you are looking for. Every week you can arrange for a bouquet of seasonal flowers to be delivered – you can also create your own schedule and budget. Send flowers to a sick friend or to a relative in a care home. Husbands and boyfriends, this is a wonderful way to woo your partner with floral displays of love.

Janeil says, “Customers love it. We help make their life simpler. We take care of all the details and they don’t have to think about it.”

If you are looking to hone your flower arranging skills, Pretty Things offers workshops throughout the year. Next up is a holiday wreath-making workshop on December 5. With the guidance of a florist participants will learn how to design a holiday floral wreath or door swag, which you will get to take home. To add to the merriment, hot toddies will be served.
Look no further than Pretty Things this holiday season for table arrangements, bouquets and Christmas centerpieces. Some of the seasonal flowers making an appearance include winter peonies, garden roses, holly, and seasonal elements such as frosted tips, which make an arrangement cry out “Happy Holidays!”

Janeil believes flowers and gifts are a natural pairing. Year round gifts and décor can be found at Pretty Things, however, with Christmas on the horizon, ideas for presents and stocking stuffers are at the top of everyone’s list.

Some of the designer brands carried include Kate Spade frames, notebooks, candles, Panier de Sens soaps, hand cream, body lotion and body wash, Linnea Lights candles and diffusers and Ted Baker travel bags and notebooks.

Other great gift items include The Cottage Greenhouse body soap, creams and sprays (this line made Oprah’s favourite things list for 2016), and for the bride to be, Wedgewood bridal books and notepads. Don’t forget yourself on the shopping list – buy a travel mug and Pretty Things will fill it with a free coffee.

pretty-things-florist-steveston-insider-3As a new member of Steveston’s merchant community Janeil recently became a Steveston Merchants Association board member. She has enjoyed assisting with Christmas in Steveston Village and has taken an active role in seeking sponsors. She believes in investing in Steveston and says, “If other merchants are successful, my business will also be successful. It’s important merchants work together.”

After operating a shop in the mall and abiding by strict hours of operation, Janeil is happy to have the freedom to pick her own hours (the store is open 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. excluding Mondays when it is closed). She says her customers are supportive and lovely and she is thrilled to be operating a business in a small community where people introduce themselves and become loyal clients.

This holiday season make a point of adding Pretty Things to your list of local businesses to visit and discover for yourself how this pretty shop earned its name.

Pretty Things Florist & Designer Gifts
110-3531 Bayview Street
Richmond, BC V7E 5W3
Telephone: 604-285-9120
www.prettythingsvancouver.ca

OSUM! Kitchen + Lab

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Lucy Wang recently opened a new restaurant in Steveston Village on Bayview Street.

osum-logoIt is a fusion restaurant that specializes in making one-of-a-kind, 100% handcrafted (dough to final product) foods, namely BAO-GER (bao-burger), OSUM! specialty fusion noodles, and their very own “Monoodle” (single over 1-m long handmade broad kale / egg noodles that fits in a bowl).osum-interior

BAOGER, a.k.a. Bao burger/ Asian-style burger, is their latest signature creation of the handcrafted hybrid food series at OSUM! Kitchen + Lab. It has the look of an fluffy Asian steamed bao bun but is unexpectedly filled with endless savoury fillings like a hamburger, filled with all-natural tender braised pork belly, beef brisket, and grilled cheesy chicken for the patty, fresh veggies, intercontinental condiments, premium pine nuts, and their OSUM! secret sauce.

They also make OSUM! specialty noodles from scratch every morning. That’s also why they only make limited orders of baos and noodles each day. Just like the baogers, they make sure you have a one-of-a-kind experience tasting the ‘world’ in every single OSUM noodle bowls. OSUM! noodle are sauce-based artisanal noodles embellished with a vast array of crisp veggies, exotic herbs & spices, essentially the gastronomic essence of various cultures. There is no doubt that every customer at OSUM! will be able to taste a little bit of Tokyo, LA, Seoul, Thai, Singapore,…. inside one soul-warming bowl.

OSUM! Kitchen + Lab
125-3531 Bayview Street, Richmond, BC V7E 5W3
Telephone: 604-272-2538
www.liveosum.com

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