“I was born in Rome, Italy. My parents came to Canada in the early seventies. I was only one. My father is a pastry chef and my mother an artist. Times were tough back then but my father managed to find work in bakeries across the city. At the beginning he held down three jobs, one full-time and two part-time. As you may have guessed, I was immersed in the bakery business from a very early age. I would beg my father, Nicola, to take me with him on the weekends where he worked for some of the most popular Italian bakeries in and around Toronto. My father is an amazingly creative pastry chef, trained in Rome, Italy. He once owned an espresso bar with my beautiful mother. The bar was often frequented by the prolific poet Pier Paolo Pasolini and the award winning director, Bernardo Bertolucci. How cool is that!
The first bakery my father was employed at, was run by three brothers. They just loved my father, who was able to produce cakes, cookies, pies, puff pastry, cream puffs, rum balls, cannoli’s all in one weekend! For an 8 year old girl this was THE show to watch live and uninterrupted. Adult words would fly around the bakery but that didn’t phase me at all. I was too busy licking my fingers clean, sitting beside a huge tub of chocolate custard my father so strategically placed beside me. To this day chocolate custard has a soft place in my heart and my mouth especially when you eat it with flaky pastry! The custard has the consistency of chocolate pudding! I’m licking my lips as I am writing this! It was incredible the amount of goodies my father would produce in one weekend. Insane really. To this day I still call him the human production machine. Fast and furious he baked, and it was like magic before my eyes. My eyes in the shape of pies. I was in heaven. The brothers who ran the bakery treated my father like the pastry king, and his daughter like the princess. I was able to explore the bakery, checking out the selection of goodies from behind the counter! What a Sunday treat it was for me. Hanging out with my father and eating anything I wanted. This was my very first job in the bakery. I was the quality control guru of cookies, princess of pies, queen of cannoli’s! Life was blissful.
I absolutely loved and still adore being around the sweet smell of freshly baked bread, cookies and treats. The fragrant smell to this day is so intoxicating…the aromatherapy of my life. Perhaps I could bottle it! 😉
My second ‘job’ at the brother’s bakery was to put together the pastry and cake boxes. I was eight years old. It was the best feeling in the world, just to get the chance to be behind the counter of treats. I felt so important. I recall following the bakery staff around wanting to serve the customers, I was ready to take on the world. The staff had better sense than to let an 8 year old serve treats and hot espresso. Even though I felt 4 feet tall ‘working’ at the bakery, I could barely look over the pastry counter and so I was stuck on box duty. Mastering the boxes was easy to me. Once I learned the technique, I was making tons of boxes every week, so the staff would never be without a pastry box! If you are a busy bakery, the boxes make life so much sweeter! I soon came to realize my next love was to master making cakes! But alas I would not touch a cake until my family opened up our very own bakery in 1985 and was open for 26 years! Now my sister, Monja Chiara and I, own and operate our very own cake shop in Long Branch, Etobicoke. We have been in business for over 8 years and we love every minute of it! Our sweet dreams did come true!”