An amorous declaration of praise for decades of dedication and devotion to the art of organic baking and beyond...
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
I love thee with fresh pies, pretzels and bread.
I love thee with the purity of an organic spread
I love thee with muffins and cookies on trays
cakes and long johns with a chocolate glaze,
sticky buns and special gluten free praise!
The Kootenay Bakery Café on 377 Baker Street in Nelson is popular amongst young and old, for breakfast and lunch, for their sweet treats and savory baked goods, cakes, pies, snacks, breads and organic beverages.
It was my pleasure to chat with Deborah Desilet about her long history with the bakery. She was actually one of the original owners of the Kootenay Baker which she started together with her brother-in-law in the early nineties. It was housed back then in the "old" Kootenay Coop, across the road from the Bank of Montreal on the corner of Baker Street and Kootenay Street.
She was also one of the founding members of the Kootenay Bakery Café Cooperative in 2000 when the business proudly established itself at its present location.
We are talking about a workers' cooperative of 7 members right at this moment, but numbers vary, it has seen as little as 4 and up to 11 members in the past.
The members actively run the business on a democratic basis in the form of a board of directors. Every shareholder has one vote and helps to make important decisions. There are several teams such as kitchen, packaging, baking and administrative with their respective department managers. For somebody to become a member, they have to work there for at least one year and be prepared for a big learning curve. It's not just about running a viable business, but embracing the shared vision, the challenges of managing staff, growing the business as well as maintaining the quality of service and products.
The Kootenay Bakery Café is a sizable employer of 23 people (the work force may increase according to the season) and strives to pay a livable wage.
It is a happy place, also a pleasant work environment; therefore it is not uncommon to see the same smiling faces for years. Some front end staff have been there for 8, 10 or even 25 years! Wow!
Besides being a fair employer, the KBCC has supported local farmers and organic suppliers for a long time,
for example, organic rye flour has been bought from the same farm in Saskatchewan since 1984! An eye popping 3000 pounds of local squash are cooked, baked and turned into pies and other goodies each year. Cases and cases of BC blueberries, organic cherries and peaches, to name just a few of the locally produced fresh fruits, are frozen in order to be used year round in yummy baking and smoothies.
Whenever possible, the cooperative will prefer to purchase organic locally raised meat like the purely organic chicken they use in the chicken pot pies and wraps; the KBCC does not skimp on quality ingredients but organic beef is harder to come by, so the next best alternative is the grass fed beef from central BC which goes into the delicious and highly sought after sausage rolls. They even make their own corned beef and ham for the busy lunch trade.
You and me both need to check out the loaded croissants, bagels, wraps and sandwiches that are freshly made to order. It's easy to miss those because the deli displays are so enticing, filled with goodies, fresh pastries and ready to eat items such as pizza slices, burritos, latkes, quiches, samosas, salads and so much more.
Not only can you feel good about all organic and GMO free ingredients, you will also be happy to know that their dietary options are plentiful. Lots of healthy choices are available from dairy-, egg- and wheat-free to gluten-free.
Do you have a birthday or special occasion coming up?
Deborah recommends ordering one of the celebration cakes!
Here are some of their master pieces:
The fabulous Mousse Log,
a luscious organic ganache enrobed organic mousse on a thin spelt chocolate cake and berry jam base with a high WOW factor.
It is is similar to the individual love bite and it is so good that it should be illegal.
Another one is the Lemon Yoghurt Cake,
which is made with almonds & organic brown rice flour, filled with a refreshing lemon curd and frosted with lemon cream cheese icing.
OMG! I love lemon in baking. I am salivating at the mere thought of it.
Don't miss the Valhalla Forest Cake,
the organic rice flour version of the Black Forest cake, a divine gluten free chocolate cake, filled with café pastry cream and organic cherries, wrapped in fair-trade chocolate.
Why stress yourself out about baking when you can get artisan organic tortes, made from scratch and you only need to give one day's notice!
Every time I go to the KBCC, I hurry to get there early enough in order to score big salty Pretzels because they sell out so quickly. They are the real traditional "Bretzeln" like the ones you get from kiosks and bakeries in Germany. The best way to enjoy them is fresh, sliced in half and buttered. That reminds me of my blessed childhood. I wasn't surprised at all when I found out that the head baker is also from the old country like me.
The Kootenay Bakery Café has an awesome organic juice bar. I recently derived extreme pleasure out of the Morning Zinger, a blend of fresh organic carrot, ginger and apple juice. If you relish revitalizing fruit and veggie drinks and smoothies, go there, they can build it to your specific preference, even with extra health boosters such as bee pollen, E-3 Alive, Emergen-C and organic hemp powder.
I am also a big fan of their coffee. When I am in Nelson, I like to get my caffeine fix there. The efficient and enthusiastic barristas consistently produce the finest Americanos and Lattees. They use the locally fresh roasted Oso Negro coffee blends, but I think the true secret to their supreme tasting brews lies in the use of the organic wholesome milk of Kootenay Meadows. What is new or coming up?
Do I need to say more? I can't wait myself to sample mouthwatering seasonal short breads and other decadent festive delicacies. I am dreaming of a White Christmas and "Christstollen", a German Christmas bread. Rumor has it, a new panettone with chocolate and ginger is going to enter central stage.
Deborah let me in on a new development:
The Kootenay Bakery Café Cooperative is joining Economusee, an international network of artisan businesses. This will enable our beloved local bakery/café to get their long overdue acknowledgement, and it will help to further showcase their trade and know-how. In the future experiential cultural tourism is on the horizon. This is exciting news! I personally would love to sign up for an interactive learning experience as soon as it is available.
We are all so lucky to have such a wonderful place in our community.
Their slogan is their true trademark:
LOCALLY SOURCED AND CRAFTED WITH LOVE
You can taste the difference!
Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday 8am – 4 pm.