Big news guys, big big news. The White Apron is being reincarnated.
I had always wanted to do *this* commercially, making cakes. But doing it the proper way, from a licensed commercial pastry kitchen. Doing it from a home kitchen is really dangerous, as the whole operation is not insured, or inspected….so while I did do a couple cakes from home while living in Vancouver, I didn’t want to make a habit of it. I feel like it is better to do it properly, above the table, and then I can really let business take off. When we first moved to the Okanagan, our house had a basement suite with a separate kitchen. Part of my plan was to make *this* my separate cake kitchen space. But upon starting to look into it, our zoning did not allow for a commercial kitchen. Without zoning comes no business license, or insurance. So I shelved the idea for awhile.
At some time in 2012, around the time we got married, I found a tiny little commercial spot in town. Over the course of the winter, I renovated it from Nail Salon to Commercial Kitchen.
It was really just a lot of paint, bringing in a plumber and an electrician, sourcing some equipment, a couple trips to IKEA for cabinets and counters, building a counter, a bit of tile…..it was a fun project, and in the end, I had a health inspector-certified little commercial kitchen. It was honestly really a fun place to go every day & make delicious treats. It was about 400 square feet, and in that tiny little space, I did pastries every day for walk in traffic, plus a whole lot of custom cakes and other orders, mostly for weddings and birthdays. One local coffee shop even sold my ham&cheese croissants! I did farmers markets, and became known for my all-butter croissants, french macarons, and custom cakes. Space was always an issue (trying to get a 3 tier cake ready, while having space for farmers markets baking…it was always a juggling act) but I managed.
But then….life happened. After our first Sous Chef was born, and she spent many farmers markets there with me, strapped to me in the baby sling while I sold pain au chocolats.
Eventually she went to daycare. But daycare is expensive. So is butter, chocolate, commercial property taxes and whatnot, and eventually, the numbers needed to keep the doors open in the quiet season of November – April didn’t make sense. This is an incredibly seasonal town – bustling, can’t-find-a-parking-spot in the summer, but in the winter, it is a virtual ghost town. The overhead was too high, and the revenue during those months just wasn’t what we needed. Plus, the location turned out to be not ideal. It was too small (trying to do 3 tiered cakes and farmers markets, not enough space for another fridge, plus I already maxed out the amount of power we had so couldn’t run the air conditioner and the oven at the same time!).
It was a hard decision but time with my baby, and not going into debt for what should be income-generating didn’t make sense. I closed the shop, moved my equipment into our garage, and developed a rough plan for what would work better, when the timing was better. While Sous Chef #1 turned from new baby into toddler, we sold our house, and bought a new place, just a few minutes away. Our new home was an orchard, up in the agricultural area, where the zoning *does* allow for a commercial kitchen. We moved, learned how to grow apples (which we juice into amazing natural orchard pressed apple juice – here is our website!), had Sous Chef #2, and started to formulate a plan that would give me more space, more possibility, and have basically zero overhead. The plan for The White Apron 2.0 was born.
Last summer, as Sous Chef #2 grew from brand new baby, to a more manageable 8 month old, I started to wrap my head around the future. I could start to see the light beyond the years of all-night feedings, and we committed to a plan. Last month, we got the ball rolling by building a wall to divide our workshop — we left a small narrow area for parking the tractor, storing our juice, and for our workbench and tools. The time to start up The White Apron 2.0 had come. (My dad is one of those handy, can build or fix anything kind of guys. So on one visit when my parents came to help during harvest season, he decided he had the time to build and drywall the dividing wall. Just like that…..the process had begun!)
With the wall installed, I am excited to say we are officially on our way to starting the reincarnated pastry kitchen. It is time for the ultimate DIY: building a commercial pastry kitchen.
Here is where things look today, with the wall framed in (and a whole random lot of pastry kitchen equipment in storage).
The new wall
With this new, larger kitchen based out of my home, I will still be a inspected and insured commercial pastry kitchen. But being at home, I can stay home with my kids instead of shelling out for full-time daycare (and instead just have part time help during wedding season!). I already have wedding bookings coming in for this summer. Thinking back to when we first moved to the area 6 years ago, this couldn’t be any closer to what I originally hoped for. I will mostly do cakes and custom orders, but when weekend bookings allow, I will do farmers markets also. And who knows what else the future may bring.
This winter, on weekends and evenings, turning this garage space into my dream cake studio will be my goal. Stay tuned to this page and my instagram and Facebook for photos of the reno. I will be doing it all myself (with the exception of bringing in a plumber and electrician when needed), and will post updates of the different steps needed for the reno. Here we go! I will be keeping all of the kitchen reno posts on this page too, and will add to it as the project progresses. My goal is to be done and inspected by May 2017!