One year ago I left my job to start something new.
As many of you know, before creating ADAM BAKES, I was the executive pastry chef at a well-known hotel for four years. It was a high-stress position that took a toll on my body until I hit my breaking point on Christmas day 2017. I went in to work my shift and my lips ballooned up and my whole body broke out into hives.
After a visit to the hospital, a month of stress leave and some career therapy, I knew this was no longer the job for me. Sometimes you find yourself someplace and realize, this is not at all what I had envisioned for myself.
I took some time brainstorming what my next move would be. After reflecting, I realized this was now my chance to do something for me. To build something of my own.
My goal was to create beautiful pastries that are under-represented in Ottawa and to give them the attention they deserve! During those brainstorming months, I started a recipe blog to share the knowledge I had gained to anyone that wanted to listen. It gained some modest buzz, I was featured on CBC and there was a quick blurb in Ottawa Magazine.
I was certain that the next step would be to get into the popular Lansdowne Market. After going through the application process, my application was not accepted.
As I look back, I’m grateful things worked out how they did. It allowed me to jump around, going to smaller markets around the city (and province!) and to begin building a name for myself, and touching lots of different neighbourhoods.
There were hot days in 30+ weather, melting buttercream, and days with bins of leftovers. But there were also the amazing customers, days where we completely sold out, and beautiful market venues. Ottawa has become a totally new place for me, even though I’ve lived here for over eight years. It’s been amazing to meet so many other vendors in the same boots as me. We are all so supportive of each other and it’s very much a tight-knit community.
And then there’s the sales aspect. As an introvert, I knew this would be a challenge for me, but I’ve found that I’ve really enjoyed the social aspect. You meet new people and encourage them to try something new. My wife and I often joke that we feel like carnival workers. “Step right up and try a cannelé!”
My wife Anne-Marie has always had my back. She knew we could do this from the very beginning. She is the extrovert to my introvert. You’ll see her at markets with me most of the time, wearing her ADAM BAKES t-shirt. She’s the communications brain behind the business (yes, she edited this).
When it comes to the business, I’ve taken a very low-risk approach. I practically don’t own anything! I use a car sharing program to get around to all my events and to get my ingredients and supplies.
In terms of kitchen space, I’ve been involved in 2 incubator kitchens now where there are several small food businesses that share kitchen equipment and space. I started working in a kitchen where I paid by the hour. I even worked the night shift because the hours were cheaper! In October I moved to Pascale’s Incubator Kitchen where I met the wonderful Pascale (of Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream fame) and other amazing local business owners who have become my “kitchen family”.
Renting these services also has the added benefit of being more environmental, which has always been important to me. I also use as many local ingredients as I can. Nothing has taught me more to be local-focused than being a food producer myself.
So what’s ahead?
I’ll keep doing markets, craft shows and custom orders. And I’m happy to report that tomorrow is my first day at Lansdowne market, where I’ve been accepted as a full-time vendor!
Pascale has also installed a take-out window and the businesses at the kitchen have been invited to sell our products to the public. We’re located at 571 Gladstone. Stay tuned to find out more as this project progresses.