Canadian bakers, pastry chefs, and entrepreneurs! Where you at?!
by Dina Hamed
I had a great chat with Christine Monfriese, owner and operator of Monfriese Rum Cakes in Ontario, Canada, and my friend/former baking and pastry arts classmate on episode 5 of the podcast titled, "Ideas on Supporting Aspiring Entrepreneurs & Small, Growing Businesses." Christine shared her inspiring baking business story and through it, we uncovered a few key areas entrepreneurs, like Christine, might like to see more support in.
The first being funding, for new ventures or expanding established small businesses, Christine describes her difficulties in securing this sort of capital from financial institutions and wishes that there were more monetary supports for entrepreneurs in the form of grants or bursaries.
The second area we touched on was mental health and well-being, a theme that keeps coming up within every conversation I have. Our front-line bakers and pastry chefs, as well as our entrepreneurs, are concerned for their health. It is no secret that working in the baking industry is laborious, taking a toll on mind, spirit, and body. What are we doing as an industry to support these needs of our workers and ensure their individual and collective career longevity, success, and happiness?
The final area of support we mentioned was cultivating a sense of national community (or lack of) among every day bakers, pastry chefs, and entrepreneurs. Last April 2022, I attended the Bakery Showcase: Tradeshow and Conference (the only national B2B baking industry event in Canada), and while I had an amazing time, I did get the impression that there seemed to be a lack of representation for small baking businesses among the vendors. For simplicity's sake, I'll refer to this section of our industry as "small bake." Admittedly, I did not visit every single booth, but a quick look at the Exhibitor 2022 List confirms the claim that most, if not all the vendors, were large suppliers and manufacturing companies, representative of a different (and important) sector of our baking industry, "big bake" if you will. Perhaps the Bakery Showcase is not the right sort of event for members of the small bake sector to conference...or maybe with some reimagination, it is! Either way, we're still left with the questions: Where is the national event for us, small bake? Our representation? Our opportunity to network, research, and build a sense of national community?
I don't have the answers to these questions...yet. What I can say is that there is work to be done, we just need to bring together the right people to do it. Who is with me? I know for a fact that there are people working hard behind the scenes at the Baking Association of Canada, I myself am getting involved in the action! So there is hope!
"When 'i' is replaced with 'we,' even illness becomes wellness.”