It is rare to walk into Kootenay Bakery and see no line up at the counter.
Since the Bakery began 10 years ago, the community has embraced the philosophy and most importantly the food that they offer.
Cynthia Olivas is one of the founding members of the Kootenay Bakery co-op.
“The Co-op has been in existence for 10 years. We originally bought an existing bakery that was situated in the food co-op,” she said. “At that time the food co-op had to expand and the owner at that time didn’t want to make the move to a new location so he asked the workers if we wanted to form a co-op of our own.”
There were seven original members of the co-op who moved everything down the street to the current location, which had been the Salvation Army.
“It was an immediate success for us and now it’s a thriving business,” said Olivas.
The Bakery has seen a lot of growth since it moved to it’s new location.
When they first moved in they were doing all their baking on the main floor and now they have a large operation downstairs that prepares baking for both their retail store and wholesale.
“We get as many organic ingredients as we possibly can,” said Olivas. “All of our grains and beans are organic. We get as much organic produce as we can and then sometimes we can’t so we go to conventional.”
The Bakery also has a strong emphasis on local using a range of local produce like cherries from the Okanagan and squash from Creston.
“We’ve really developed a great relationship with local producers and they are very reliable,” said Olivas.
The Bakery also makes everything from scratch.
“We don’t make mixes here. We do a lot of pre-production, like we’ll make a big batch of croissants and freeze them, then take them out, and proof and bake as we need. But baking from scratch is what makes the baking fun for bakers,” said Olivas.
Baking from scratch was important particularly early on in the Bakery.
“It was before a lot of the whole grain products were developed but now everyone is doing everything, but at that point we had to make a lot of things up as we went a long,” she said. “Now we’re playing a lot with the gluten-free products so once again it’s like a big learning experience for us, but it also makes it very interesting for us. It’s chemistry.”
The recipes that have become favourites around the regions come from “anybody and everybody.”
“There is a note in our communications book talking about a possible new smoothie,” said Olivas. “The cook just came up with a reuben sandwich with tofu. Somebody gets an idea and another person carries it a little further. Sometimes ideas get dropped and others get carried all the way to completion.”
The Bakery’s kale salad — which is a lunch time favourite — was added to the menu after somebody made it for the staff’s Christmas potluck.
Other Kootenay favourites like Silver King Tofu and Oso Negro Coffee along with the baking are also shipped as far as the Okanagan and Calgary under a small branch of the Bakery called Kootenay Made Natural Products.
Olivas had been a baker for nearly 20 years before moving into the administration side of the Bakery.
Over the years she has taste a lot of the baking but said some of her favourites include the pizzas and the sourdoughs.
“I’m also addicted to some of the cookies,” she said. “I’ve been here for so long I can’t say that I have a favourite of anything.”