Corey Ma spent 15 years of his life as an engineer but to feel the job was not the right fit for him. After one apple pie, he decided he wanted to become a pie baker and has never looked back.
Ma graduated from the University of Calgary with an engineering degree in 2009, but shortly after he lost his drive.
“I just knew where my career was headed and I wouldn’t be happy about it,” says Ma.
One day in 2010, Ma woke up with a craving for apple pie.
“I just went to Walmart, grabbed some apples, butter, flour, a rolling pin and just went at it.”
Ma soon travelled to Montreal to pursue culinary school for six months.
As an engineer, Ma made around $70,000 yearly, but when he moved to Montreal he received a job where the “minimum wage was $12 per hour.”
He stayed and trained in Montreal and later New Zealand, before making his way home. In October 2019, Ma began selling pies at farmer’s markets in Calgary under the name Ma Pies.
Unfortunately, Ma’s hurdles were not over.
“I will always remember March 14, 2020,” says Ma. “That was when the markets told us we can’t sell anymore because of COVID.”
The new restrictions around COVID-19 destroyed many businesses, but Ma refused to let that happen.
“It was the end of May when I started to sell pies again online…and we were delivering door to door.”
Two months later, Ma discovered Culinary Coworking in Calgary, shared kitchen space for culinary entrepreneurs.
Father and son co-owners, Herbert and Andrew Obrecht wanted to combine their culinary and entrepreneurial experience to help guide the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs.
When Ma first started at Culinary Coworking, he didn’t know what to expect. However, the Obrecht’s were very open to his needs.
“They were so willing to buy new equipment,” Ma said.
When starting a new business, there are many costs involved, but Culinary Coworking makes it easier.
“When Corey came in, one of the pieces of equipment that would really help him out was a commercial-grade [dough] sheeter,” says Andrew. “And for us, that was an item that we saw benefits to the entire community.”
Culinary Coworking is a community of individuals that support each other, said Andrew.
Through support and determination, Ma has adapted in many ways to fulfill his dreams of becoming a pie baker.
“We’re actually opening up in Granary Road,” says Ma. “It will be our first storefront that will allow us to sell the pies hot.”
Ma’s storefront will be opening at the end of April 2022 at Granary Road Farmers Market just outside of Calgary.