Posts Tagged ‘bakery’

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

Outpost Mini Donut Company

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Outpost_Mini_Donut_Steveston_Insider_5430Bet You Can’t Have Just One!

Walking through the door of Outpost Mini Donut Company feels like stumbling upon a cozy cabin in the woods offering up warmth in the form of freshly made mini donuts. The aroma of these little morsels is the businesses’ secret weapon; it is very hard to resist their siren-like lure to taste each and every one of them.

Outpost is a joint venture between Christian Desierto, his wife Margie and her parents, Sam and Christine Sidsworth, with Christian Desierto as the managing partner.

Like many Steveston merchants, the Desiertos became smitten with the area when Sam and Christine Sidsworth retired to the waterfront village. Following the birth of their first child the Desiertos moved from Vancouver to Steveston.

They had been regular Outpost customers and seized the opportunity to purchase the business after seeing a for sale sign in the window. They were charmed by Outpost’s ambience with its fireplace and comfy living room seating area staged with ice skates, snowshoes, books, antlers and other rustic props. More importantly, they were firm believers in the product.

Outpost_Mini_Donut_Steveston_Insider_5434Christian Desierto holds a full time job as a commercial property manager with flexible hours, which allows him to be actively involved in managing the shop’s operations. Sam Sidsworth oversees the maintenance of the equipment to ensure the production line runs smoothly, Christine Sidsworth assists the staff whenever they need a hand and Margie Desierto makes all of the marshmallows that are sold in the store and popped into cups of hot chocolate.

Outpost is the only brick and mortar gourmet mini donut shop that Christian Desierto is aware of in the Lower Mainland.

Many people associate these bite size treats with the PNE and some food trucks are also selling them. But if you need a year round fix Outpost is the place to go.

On any given day you will find 10 varieties of donuts. Five classics stay on the menu year round (cinnamon sugar, chocolate, maple, powdered sugar and vanilla) while five seasonal donuts also join in on rotation. In the summer fruits such as blueberry and lemon appear. This fall apple caramel was introduced and was a huge hit. The winter sees festive flavours such as maple bacon (with bacon bits from Steveston’s Heringers Meats) and gingerbread.

Outpost_Mini_Donut_Steveston_Insider_5437What sets these donuts apart from their competitors? Outpost’s creations are concocted from a cake-based mix rather than yeast. This makes them fluffy, soft and moist with a crisp exterior and yields an excellent shelf life if you have enough will power to take them home. Donuts are replenished daily at the little shop. On busy days the fryer produces as many as 1,200 donuts. The largest order to date was 170 dozen for a corporate event.

Desierto laughs when he recalls pausing to calculate 170 dozen would be an order of 2,040 donuts. The fryer worked double time that day; it took six hours to make them.

In addition to in-store sales, Outpost also provides catering. Weddings are always popular and donuts can be themed by colour. Outpost delivers the order and clients are responsible for their own displays. Companies also like to order boxed donuts as gifts.

The company’s short-term goal is to promote the product and increase their customer base within the Greater Vancouver Area and a long-term goal is add a portable fryer for mobile events.

Outpost_Mini_Donut_Steveston_Insider_5441Some people are still discovering the business, which is located along Second Avenue’s treat row (it is sandwiched between two ice cream shops). Tourists and locals like to pop by at all hours, including an after dinner crowd that crave a small treat to fuel them the rest of the way home. Outpost has received added exposure at events like O’Hare’s GastroPub’s Steveston Beer Fest and Wine Fest where they offer donut samples.

Sold by the half dozen or by the baker’s dozen (lucky thirteen, a bonus donut comes your way), you can take the little yummies away in a paper cone or in a box.

For Desierto the most rewarding part about owning Outpost Mini Donut Company is the direct involvement he and his family have within the community they have chosen to call home.

He concludes, “Adults can turn into kids when they see there is more than one flavour. This is always a happy place with donuts involved.”

Outpost_Mini_Donut_Steveston_Insider_5425Outpost Mini Donut Company
110-12240 Second Ave
Richmond BC V7E 3L8
Telephone: 604-448-0005

Steveston Coffee Company

Monday, February 9th, 2015

It’s All About The Bean

Steveston Cofee, Moncton, Palla MediaCoffee is undeniably a large part of Steveston’s identity. It is difficult not to spot people strolling with a cup of joe in hand as they browse the village’s shops or take a walk along the dyke trails. The dark nectar helps get many Stevestonites days started and often wraps up evenings out.

For those who have recently moved to the area it may come as a surprise to learn that little Steveston Coffee Company was the original local coffee shop. Now in its eighteenth year, this independent business continues to carve out new territory. You can’t get more locally roasted beans than these. Their fair trade and organic coffee is roasted just up the road at their London Landing warehouse.

Husband and wife team Frank Fernandez and Debby Chou own the business. They credit founder and former owner Steve Tarczali for sharing his valuable knowledge and years of experience with them.

Born in London, England, Fernandez moved to Steveston in the late 1980s. He first spotted the coffee shop from across the street when he was dining at Dave’s Fish and Chips. He was immediately sold on the coffee and became a regular.Steveston Cofee, Frank Fernandez, Palla Media

In June 2013 Fernandez left his fast paced job as an insurance underwriter and Chou departed from her work in the corporate world to purchase Steveston Coffee Company and invest in their community. Their two oldest children attend the same elementary school their father did (Manoah Steves) and enjoy living on the same street where he grew up.

The fact that Fernandez (head coffee roaster) and Chou (who manages the storefront) roast their own beans locally is what makes them unique.

“The most rewarding part of the business is meeting people who enjoy our coffee. It is very satisfying to form friendships and introduce my family to our customers.”

Fernandez takes great pride in the beans and he will enthusiastically share tales of the beans’ origins, right down to the farms and farmers that grow them. This may sound mildly impressive until you discover that Steveston Coffee Company carries over 30 types of beans. That’s a lot of stories. He says, “It is like travelling the world” when you visit the coffee shop.

With a sip of java you can instantly be transported to Africa, Asia, Central America or South America. With this image in mind, the company logo features a two-masted topsail schooner symbolic of our waterfront community with a historic nod to the shipping of beans globally.

Fernandez’s love of coffee stems from the unique countries where the beans are grown. Since each coffee has a distinct pedigree, he says, “It reflects the passion of its homeland.” He is proud that farmers are appreciated for their hard work when their beans are bought as specialty grade green coffee.

“To be honest, I don’t have a favourite. I see coffee as a never-ending journey; each has its own unique characteristics.”

Are you looking to branch out and explore a new taste? Some of the high-end beans Fernandez recommends include Kenyan AA, Ethiopia Kaffa Forest, Guatemala Antigua Estate Coffees (they sell three Cup of Excellence winners from the regions of Santa Clara, Puerta Verde and San Augustin), Finca La Providencia, and Finca La Cabana Honey.

Steveston Cofee, bar, Palla MediaHave you ever tried Congolese coffee? Commencing in February, Steveston Coffee Company will introduce one new coffee each month, starting with Congo. They also set the trend by introducing Cuban beans to Steveston village.
Last September the couple renovated the storefront to allow for an improved kitchen and food preparation area. They also took a look at the floor plan and improved the traffic flow by shifting the retail section.

Fernandez roasts beans and handles everything related to the coffee from marketing to ordering and logistics.

“I find it deeply satisfying to be able to offer a product without compromise. I am responsible from start to finish, from sourcing to roasting to delivering the coffee into our customers’ hands.”

On the front end you will find Chou who is responsible for staffing, ordering and assisting clients. The business has earned a reputation for being friendly and knowledgeable thanks to Chou and the dedicated staff.

In addition to the large variety of coffee (including the shop’s very popular signature Steveston Blend and Breakfast Blend) you will find a nice assortment of baked goods that pair well with beverages. There have been menu updates including the introduction of some gluten-free and vegan options. One of Fernandez’s personal favourites is the gluten-free peanut butter chocolate bar. He enjoys the simple high quality ingredients and the delicious taste.

Running an independent business is time consuming; however, the couple makes a point of giving back to the community. Fernandez is a coach and safety volunteer with Seafair Minor Hockey. Chou is actively involved with children’s charities. They whisk their children back and forth to hockey, soccer, baseball and school.

With the busy lives they lead it is fortuitous that Chou and Fernandez’s livelihood is fueled by one of Steveston’s most well loved beverages. Pay Steveston Coffee Company a visit – you are bound to receive a warm welcome and an exceptional cup of locally roasted coffee.

Steveston Coffee Company
110-3511 Moncton St
Richmond BC V7E 3A3
Telephone 604-275-1983

The Sweet Spot

Friday, December 5th, 2014

A Taste of Europe in Steveston Village

Sweet_Spot_tarts_Steveston_Palla_MediaPeeking through the window at the display case filled with tempting pastries and savouries is a regular occurrence at The Sweet Spot. In fact, owners Kirsten Degenhardt and Keiran Flaherty regularly find themselves wiping away the tell tale signs of fingerprints on the First Avenue window.

It is no wonder that people are eager to sneak a peek at the offerings inside the bakery. This little spot, which opened four years ago, has earned a glowing reputation and has garnered five out of five stars on Trip Advisor, along with an overflow of first class reviews from fans on other internet websites.

People are hooked on the extensive selection of patisserie (mousses, eclairs, cakes, tarts), Viennoiserie (croissants, Danishes and brioche), savouries (scones, quiche and daily sandwiches), and the array of other baked goods (madeleines, biscotti and their extremely popular chewy coconut macaroons).

The Sweet Spot bakery has been described as “the best outside of France.” These words are echoed by customers who yearn for a taste of food from their homeland or those who simply appreciate fine food.

Sweet_Spot_Degenhardt_Flaherty_Steveston_Palla_MediaDegenhardt and Flaherty are very modest, however they are flattered to hear people say their creations rank alongside respected Vancouver establishments such as Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Café and Thomas Haas.

In addition to the heavenly baked goods, you will find frozen meals to go. This is your chance to take home some outstanding entrees ranging from comfort food favourites such as macaroni and cheese, potpies and
meatballs, to gourmet fare. The menu is always changing; they like to keep things interesting for themselves and for their customers. On a given day you may look inside the freezer and find butter chicken, coq au vin, lamb shanks or cassoulet.

The freezer is also stocked with tasty soups, and again these are made in rotation. I spotted cream of cauliflower and smoked cheddar, lentil and bacon, and roast turkey and vegetable soup.

The Sweet Spot also creates house-made ice cream. One customer will purchase eight to 10 tubs of creamsicle at a time. Passion fruit, maple walnut, French vanilla and carrot cake were also available when I had a look. The chefs’ promise that winter ice creams will include gingersnap and eggnog flavours.

Everything about The Sweet Spot is teeny tiny. The front sales area is compact, and has four window seats where you can stop and eat a treat and drink a cup of Salt Spring Coffee or locally made Raintree Tea (from Steveston’s Raintree Wellness Spa).

Sweet_Spot_interior1_Steveston_Palla_MediaBehind the scenes the kitchen is equally small. An asset is the large window facing Chatham Street that lets in natural light. Degenhardt and Flaherty work around the space seamlessly sharing only one stove and wall oven. This requires careful coordination to ensure that they each accomplish their daily checklist.

Degenhardt had always loved to bake as a hobby, however her original career was in the travel and tourism industry. Fourteen years ago she decided to transform her hobby into a career and enrolled at Dubrulle Cooking School. She received her Red Seal as a pastry chef and has never looked back.

Flaherty has been acquainted with kitchens the majority of his life. As a young teenager he worked as a dishwasher at Earls and worked his way up the ranks working with some of Vancouver’s top chefs at Moustache Café and West.

The business partners met while working at Opus Hotel in Yaletown where Flaherty was chef de cuisine and Degenhardt was pastry chef. Wishing to unite their skills and their love for good food, they opened The Sweet Spot in November 2010. With Flaherty’s wealth of knowledge on the savoury side and Degenhardt’s years of experience with pastry, their dream was to create a unique gourmet shop filled with quality products.

When asked if they would consider expanding their business the partners resoundingly said no. They are happy with the location, and find the size to be very manageable.

Sweet_Spot_cookies_Steveston_Palla_MediaTheir long workdays begin at 5:30 a.m. and they often do not leave until 6:00 p.m. The bakery is open five days a week (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). In addition to food preparation they also package and label products, and Degenhardt manages the bookkeeping.

Both owners are very grateful to their supportive and loyal customers. Their dedicated staff, Helena and Wendy, shares a wealth of product knowledge. Degenhardt and Flaherty attempt, whenever possible, to come out and say hello to their clients.

They share kind words about the supportive neighbouring businesses that work together to introduce customers to one another’s shops.

Weekends are a busy time at The Sweet Spot. This is when brioche makes its weekly appearance and is often snapped up, along with plenty of other goodies, well before noon.

The holidays are almost here. The chefs remind customers to submit orders as far in advance as possible. What can you expect to see on the menu? Bûche de Noël, tourtière (frozen to take home), and stollen that they describe as, “less classic, more bready, fruity, brushed with brandy and butter.”

Sweet_Spot_interior2_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe next time you pass by the corner bakery you may very well see Degenhardt and Flaherty hard at work in their kitchen. This is where they are fulfilling their dream and also making a dream come true for many food lovers. Lucky Steveston.

The Sweet Spot Bakery
110-12000 First Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L9
Telephone 604-271-8865