Category Archives: Sound Bites

INTERVIEW – Rosie Daykin (Butter Baked Goods)

Interview conducted & written by

Attention bakers! Looking for some culinary excitement in your life? Why not join our monthly Butter Baked Goods cookbook challenge and bake your way through this beautiful book one recipe at a time. Each month we will be baking a recipe and comparing notes until all of the delicious treats have been made.

Described as a pink-and-pistachio slice of heaven, the Butter Baked Goods bakery first opened its doors in Vancouver in 2007 and owner Rosie Daykin’s childhood dream of owning a bakery came true. Famous for their homemade marshmallows, this bakery now has two locations in my stomping grounds. Last year’s release of a compilation of Butter’s favourite recipes has met with much success and just flipping through the pages you can see why. The whimsical look and feel of the cafe is carried throughout the book, with a variety of recipes ranging from muffins, cookies, bars & slices, cakes, cupcakes, pies and tarts as well as a variety of confections. Wanting an excuse to bake pretty much everything from this book, I came up with the idea of a monthly challenge and hope you join in on the fun!

To kick things off I had the opportunity to ask author Rosie Daykin some questions.

Butter Image 1Butter Baked Goods (published by Random House of Canada, $35 CDN) is a compilation of recipes from one of Vancouver’s favourite bakeries.
Photo courtesy of Random House of Canada 

Rosie DaykinYou first opened Butter Baked Goods in 2007. What was the inspiration behind starting your own bakery?
A love for baking. Just as simple as that. I wanted to spend my days doing something I loved that I hoped would bring others the same enjoyment.

Six years later, what made you decide to publish a cookbook?
It seemed like a natural extension and evolution to the work that I was doing at Butter. I enjoyed the idea that Butter could reach far and wide so people could enjoy our treats even if they couldn’t make it to Vancouver and I love the creative challenge of it all.
Photo courtesy of Random House of Canada

Butter is a gorgeously illustrated cookbook. When you first came up with the concept for this book did you have an idea of what you wanted it to look like?
I wanted the book to feel and look exactly as Butter does. I wanted the reader to feel as though they were walking through the doors of Butter.

Butter is a collection of classic, nostalgic style baking recipes. There seems to be quite a trend around classic/nostalgic baking. Why do you think that is?
I don’t see it as a trend so much. I see it more about a desire for simple pleasures that are very achievable in an ever changing world moving at warp speed.

Define the art of old-fashioned family baking.
The “art of old fashioned baking” sounds a little intimidating to me. I think it is more about simple ingredients used to create memorable moments with family and friends.

The bakery’s marshmallows have earned a reputation as being some of the very best gourmet marshmallows in North America. What makes them so special?
Our marshmallows are truly hand made, from start to finish. Right down to the little bow that is tied on every bag. Just like the goodies we produce at Butter everyday, nothing is automated. Things that have had human touch are special like no other.

Your recipes are designed to be approachable for everyone from the experienced baker to baking newbies. How did you accomplish this?
It is the only way I know how to bake. Many of my recipes are the very ones I have been making since I was a little girl. They are simple and straightforward, just like me.

What’s your favourite recipe in the book?
Oh that’s a bit of a Sophie’s Choice! How could I possible choose just one of my recipe children? Though the Peanut Butter Marshmallow Slice is pretty damn fine.

You have no formal pastry training. To what do you attribute your baking success?
Practice, practice and practice. No better way to learn than by throwing yourself in and digging your way out.

In the book you say success “breed confidence and confidence is a baker’s secret weapon.” What are your top tips for baking success?
Remove all self doubt from your mind and if it doesn’t work out the first time just get back on that horse and try it again.

Our first recipe challenge is the Dream Slice – what should we make next?
The Dunbar is pretty delicious but a pie is always a good challenge.

In your book you say that your theme song would be The Cape by Guy Clark; “life is just a leap of faith, spread your arms, hold your breath and always trust your cape.” What’s your next leap of faith?!  
I just planted my first vegetable garden and fingers crossed I’ll have something to show for it come summers end.

Any final advice/words of encouragement for our merry band of bakers?!
Just enjoy it and remember to share your treats.

Interested in joining our monthly Butter Baking Challenge? Leave a comment below!

Butter Baked Goods - Cover Image - HIGH RES

Butter Baked Goods is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this cookbook please visit Random House of Canada

To read more of our interviews with professional and celebrity chefs, please visit the Sound Bites section.

INTERVIEW – Sharon Hapton (Soup Sisters)

Interview conducted & written by

Sharon Hapton is the founder of Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers, a non-profit charitable social enterprise dedicated to providing comfort to women, children and youth through the making, sharing and donating of soup. Hapton’s belief in soup as a nurturing and nourishing gift for those in crisis has led to over 60,000 containers of soup delivered to women’s shelters across Canada. 

The Soup Sisters Cookbook (published by Appetite by Random House, $22.95 CDN) is a compilation of the project’s favourite recipes edited by Sharon Hapton and Calgary-based cookbook author Pierre Lamielle.  


Interview – Anna Olson

Interview conducted & written by


Photo courtesy of Whitecap Books

Anna Olson is considered by many to be Canada’s celebrity chef darling. Born in Atlanta (GA), Anna grew up in Toronto and returned to her home country after studying to become a pastry chef at the renowned culinary programme at Johnson & Wales University in Vail (CO). She has since become one of Canada’s most respected pastry chefs and host of several television shows on Food Network Canada. Back to Baking is Anna’s seventh cookbook.

When Anna stopped by Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store, I got a chance to sit down with her to chat about her latest cookbook and sample some treats from the book’s recipes! 


Interview – Chef Mourad Lahlou

Interview conducted & written by contributing writer Helena McMurdo

Photo courtesy of Deborah Jones

Mourad Lahlou is the Chef behind San Francisco’s Aziza, where his cuisine marries the traditions of Morocco with the fresh local ingredients of the Bay Area and the advanced culinary techniques employed by only the most modern of chefs.

Virtually self-taught, he learned to cook “accidentally” while at university, trying to recreate the dishes of his childhood Morocco and longing for a connection to home. Eventually abandoning his studies to open a restaurant with the support of friends and his former professors, his restaurant became a success almost overnight and took him from economics major to major chef. Today, he is known as the Chef behind the innovative cuisine at Aziza and has a Michelin Star to boot!

I spent an hour with Mourad recently when he stopped in Vancouver on a whirlwind trip to our beautiful city to talk about his first book; Mourad: New Moroccan. Nostalgic and passionate, he shared childhood memories of his upbringing and the place that food holds in his culture. Inquisitive and curious by nature, he also spoke about his somewhat trial-and-error process and new techniques he’s employing in his kitchen. It was a pretty inspiring conversation and I ran home to start my preserved lemons so I’d be ready to start cooking! I left feeling that even I could learn to hand-roll couscous and with a wonderful reminder of the very important role that food plays in all our lives.


Interview – Julie Van Rosendaal & Sue Duncan

The latest project for Calgary-based broadcaster, blogger and cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal, is a cookbook collaboration with her good friend Sue Duncan. The subject matter? BEANS!

Full of humorous stories and anecdotes, Spilling the Beans is an informative guide to everything bean related that will help guide you towards a healthier, fiber filled lifestyle. Julie and Sue provide you with the tools and knowledge on how best to prepare and cook a variety of beans, lentils and grains. Recipes range from appetizers to desserts and are sure to please established legume lovers as well as the rookies.

Julie and Sue were recently at Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store, where they spent the evening cooking up tasty dishes from their new book. I got a chance to sit down with them before their class to chat about Spilling the Beans.


Interview – Joanne Chang

I bet you can count the number of pastry chefs with a Harvard degree in applied mathematics and economics on one hand. In fact, you can probably count them using just one finger.

Joanne Chang.

Born in Houston (TX), Joanne’s passion for food was the impetus for an unexpected foray into the culinary world. In the year 2000 she opened Flour Bakery & Café in Boston (MA) that immediately began attracting legions of loyal fans. Joanne has since opened two additional Flour bakeries along with Myers + Chang, a restaurant she opened with her husband Christopher Myers and which she describes as being a funky indie diner with food inspired by Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food.

In 2010 Joanne released her eagerly awaited cookbook – Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery & Café – and is currently working on a second book. She also writes articles and reviews cookbooks for Fine Cooking Magazine.

Confession? I have long admired Joanne Chang. Basically she inspires me to the point that I want to move to Boston and study pastry (shhh…don’t tell my hubby!) So when I recently had the opportunity to interview my pastry hero I jumped at the chance.


Okay so I’ve got to ask: how do you go from applied mathematics and economics to pastry?!
Well, I didn’t go straight into pastry. After graduation I spent two years working as a management consultant with no plans to go into the food industry whatsoever, but at the end of my second year I found myself at a crossroads and was trying to figure out what to do next. Because I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do, I thought I would spend a year doing something that I had previously enjoyed strictly as a hobby – cooking – and see where it might lead. So I ended up getting a job at a top restaurant in Boston working for famed chef/restaurateur Lydia Shire, which came about after I sent letters to various establishments basically saying that I had no experience or a professional culinary background but that I love to cook and would be willing to start anywhere. Working with Lydia I got my first glimpse into the world of professional pastry, and a year later I began working at Rick Katz’s bakery called Bentonwood.

What was it initially about pastry that held such fascination for you?
I really loved the controlled aspect of pastry. I appreciate the precise nature of pastry; there’s a lot of math and science involved which obviously resonated with my background. And to be honest I really enjoy eating sweets! I could eat pastries all day long.    

You first got into the food industry by sending out letters to chefs you admired. This was before the whole celebrity chef phenomenon, and so have things changed? How much of an importance do you place on culinary education vs. good ol’ fashioned experience in today’s market?
At the time that I sent out my letters people didn’t really do that sort of thing. Cooking professionally as a career wasn’t something that was on people’s radar to the extent that it is today. Nowadays the food industry in general is much more high profile because of celebrity chefs and the Food Network. Because I didn’t go to culinary school, our stores don’t have any food specific prerequisites for hiring. But because of today’s significant amount of interest in the food industry, I find we have to go through our non-experienced applicants with a finer toothed comb than was necessary when I was just starting out. A lot of people without experience tend to have a glamourized image of what it means to cook professionally, whereas in the past this desire to work in the culinary world came more from a genuine love of cooking.

I love how your book is so personal, and through your recipe introductions and personal anecdotes readers come away feeling as if they really know you. What was your initial vision for this book?
The end result of my book is pretty much what I had initially envisioned! Because I became a pastry chef indirectly, I can still remember what it was like learning how to make all of these pastries. So my goal was to create a book where I could share my love for pastry and passion for baking. Every recipe that I put in the book is very personal to me. A lot of people who cook seem nervous about baking, and I wanted to break down these perceived barriers between cooking and baking and show how a good recipe and learned technique can make a baker out of anyone!

You occasionally review cookbooks for Fine Cooking magazine. In your mind, what makes a cookbook great?
I definitely like the stories, learning where the recipe comes from and why the author thinks it’s worth including in their book. To be honest, I have a problem with baking books that don’t use weights (metric measurements). Personally, metric cookbooks signify to me that recipes have been calibrated and written in a precise manner allowing for the baker to achieve optimal results.

Your recipes are so exact and show the level of thought that goes into them…for example the banana bread calls for 3.5 bananas. I’ve tried making it with that extra half and it’s just not the same! What does it take to get a recipe to this point of perfection, and once you’re happy with something do you leave it alone forever or occasionally tweak it? People want to make the food that they buy at our stores. It’s the reason they buy the book in the first place! So the recipes in the book are what we make in our bakeries. That being said, we’re making batches of 28 loaves of banana bread so everything had to be calibrated to work for portions more applicable to home cooks. If you divide our banana bread recipe by 28 you end up with 3.5 bananas and so I didn’t want to mess around with that number! I often hear people complain that they love a particular restaurant or bakery and bought their cookbook but the results never turn out the same. It’s not that the author is trying to be deceptive – it’s just that there is a lot of adjusting that needs to happen when you take a recipe that is meant to be made in larger quantities and scale it down for readers. Trust me – it’s not an easy task!

Good thing you’ve got that background in math!

In your book you take complicated pastries that can take years of training and experience to perfect, and break them down into instructions that make them less intimidating for the home cook. How difficult was it to make your recipes home cook friendly?
It wasn’t overly difficult; it just took a lot of time. Throughout the whole process I kept having to think about why we do things a certain way. I’m naturally a very specific person, so approaching a recipe in this manner was fairly easy for me to do. It didn’t feel completely alien!

Last year was supposedly the year of the cupcake, this year is being labeled the year of the pie…do you believe in food trends? If so, what are your predictions?
I don’t think anyone can deny that cupcakes have become a major trend. The media works really hard to push trends and people seem to naturally gravitate towards the idea of food trends. Personally, I am a pie pusher! Hopefully we’ll see pie start to really increase in popularity with the masses. Love pie.

You once mentioned that one of the most challenging pastry items to make has been the infamous croissant. Have you mastered it yet? What’s the secret?
The tricky thing about croissants is that there are so many variables that can affect the final product; temperature of the butter, temperature of the water, temperature of the air, etc. When you make croissants every day or every week you are able to intuitively know how the dough and butter need to react, how your fingers can manipulate the dough for the look you want, the proper way to lineup the butter and dough layers for maximum flakiness.

What is your favourite thing to make?
That’s a hard question to answer! There isn’t just one thing I like to make the most above and beyond anything else. I enjoy making carrot cakes, I love tackling croissants, shaping brioche…actually there’s very little I don’t like to make when it comes to pastry!

How do pastry chefs not weigh 5,000 lbs?! I have a number of dessert cookbooks to review and I’m scared for my waistline. What goes into recipe development for pastry chefs? (When I asked this question to Gale Gand she said no one believes her when she says she comes home from work STARVING!)
I think when you work with pastry all day long and have access to it all the time there is less of a need to consume as much of it as you can! It will always be there so you don’t really feel any pressure to overindulge. I also think that doing pastry is such a physical job (lifting bags of flours, manhandling huge sheet trays, on your feet for 8-12 hours a day). It’s a very physical job! People underestimate how much hard work is involved in this profession.

Would you consider writing another book?
Actually I’m currently working on a second book right now! The working title is Flour Power: recipes from our kitchen all day, and it basically consists of breakfast, lunch, dinner and special occasion recipes. It has more of a focus on savoury foods; lots of sandwiches, soups, dinner ideas that have become signature items at our Flour Bakeries. But don’t worry – there will still be lots of pastries!

To read the cookbook review for Flour, please click here

To read more of our interviews with professional and celebrity chefs, please visit the Sound Bites section

Interview – Trish Magwood

Trish Magwood lives in Toronto (ON) and is a successful Canadian food entrepreneur, teacher, chef and cookbook author. Over the years she has earned a solid reputation for creating recipes that are simple, reliable, and pretty gosh darn tasty. Preferring to let her food speak for itself, Trish does not feel the need to overcompensate with flamboyant and unnecessary frills. Her first book –Dish Entertains – won a prestigious James Beard Foundation award, and her second cookbook is already creating quite a buzz amongst foodies. Some of you may recognize her from the television series Party Dish, a spin off from her successful catering and cooking school.

While enjoying some downtime at her family’s cottage, Trish talked to me about her new book, how she manages to juggle a young family and a high profile career in the food industry, and the importance of making the time to gather around the table.

To read my entire interview with Trish Magwood, please click here


Interview – Mairlyn Smith

Born in Vancouver (BC), Mairlyn Smith wears a variety of hats that include home economist, teacher, cookbook author, actor and comedian. Her cookbooks are renowned for highlighting her signature comedic flair, an approach that allows readers to feel both entertained and educated.

Mairlyn’s latest book (released April 2011) is titled Healthy Starts Here! It includes over 140 recipes to help guide you through adopting a healthy lifestyle that is meant to be more of a long term commitment rather than just another diet fad.

A firm believer in eating seasonal and locally grown foods, Mairlyn is also a strong supporter of educating youth and helping them to establish healthy eating habits and good nutritional choices from a young age. In fact, it is her hope that home economics will one day be mandatory in all Canadian high schools.

While on tour promoting her book, Mairlyn took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about her new cookbook and all things healthy!

To read my entire interview with Mairlyn Smith, click here


Interview – Eric Akis

No one could have guessed that working on a military base would have led to a career in fine dining, but that’s exactly what happened to Canadian chef-writer Eric Akis. Born into a military family in Chicoutimi (QB), Eric first got bit by the culinary bug soon after he started working on the base as a civilian kitchen helper. Cooking school eventually led to a red seal certification and a variety of positions within Canada’s food industry; including fine hotels, restaurants and catering companies.

In 1997 Eric saw his dream of becoming a food writer come true after being hired by the Victoria Times newspaper. His recipe-rich columns have earned him a loyal following, and six years later he launched his best-selling Everyone Can Cook series. Renowned for his accessible approach to cooking, Eric Akis’ latest cookbook is entitled Everyone Can Cook Slow Cooker Meals (Whitecap Books $24.95 CAD), a plethora of recipes for your slow cooker that includes suggested side dishes to complete your meal. Perfect for weekday cooking or special occasions, this book contains a wealth of information on slow cooking 101, what to look for when purchasing a machine, and tips on adapting conventional oven recipes to use in a slow cooker.

A couple of months ago I got an opportunity to chat with Eric about his latest cookbook endeavour. To read my entire interview with Eric Akis, click here.

Interview – Gale Gand

Gale Gand is a nationally acclaimed pastry chef, James Beard Award winner, Food Network star, successful restaurateur, and celebrated cookbook author. Some things you may not know about Gale? She has a degree in silver and goldsmithing, and owns a root beer company!

Based in Chicago (IL), Gale Gand has seven cookbooks to her name including her most recent release – Gale Gand’s Brunch!: 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend’s Best Meal. The down-to-earth approach she takes in regards to recipes endears her cookbooks to home cooks, who love how she demystifies the secrets behind successful cooking and baking.

Gale Gand is a firm believer in sustainable agriculture and eating locally, and is an active member in several community organizations including Chicago’s Green City Market, Art Smith’s foundation, and Common Threads. As if this isn’t enough to keep her busy she also has three children including a 13 year-old son and 5 year-old twin girls.

While visiting Chicago I got an opportunity to dine at the world renowned restaurant Tru (owned by Gale Gand, Rick Tramonto & Rich Melman), and was thrilled when Gale managed to find time in her busy schedule to chat with me about her latest cookbook.

To read my interview with Gale Gand, please click here.

To read my review of Gale Gand’s Brunch! please click here.

For a copy of the recipe for Gale Gand’s Almond Ciabatta French Toast, please click here.