The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Two Calgary pastry chefs are educating consumers on elegant treats.

thumbMACARONNorth Americans are used to seeing desserts that are too big and too sweet.

Recently in Calgary, there have been more pastry chefs providing customers with European-influenced treats. High-end chefs suggest European inspired pastries, while not completely guilt-free, are more elegant, use higher quality ingredients, and leave people feeling good, and not like they've overindulged.

Sebastian Judkovski, owner of Ohh La La Patisserie in Calgary's southwest considers his French pastries, including his French macaroons or "macarons" which go for $2.15 each, well worth the price.

"Many new trends, especially the European trends, and obviously the French trends are going to take over the city, and Canada," predicts Judkovski, who has been in this industry for more than 20 years.finalSEBASTIANOwner and pastry chef at Ohh La La Patisserie, Sebastian Judkovski puts the finishing touches on an edible masterpiece.
Photo by Allison Badger

He and his wife, Yanina, have operated their shop since 2012 and consider every macaroon, cake and croissant, an edible piece of art.

Another well-known pastry chef in Calgary who is enjoying the emergence of European pastry trends is instructor Rolf Runkel of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) at the downtown culinary campus.

Originally from Switzerland, Runkel says it's important for his students and customers to embrace European influences, even though those influences tend to drive the price of pastries skyward.

Runkel explains that too many customers lean towards mass-produced baking, which can be found for cheaper prices at supermarkets. However, Runkel believes the food scene in Calgary is evolving due to consumer education.

"People get to understand what good food is, what better food is. There's a lot of wealth in Calgary so it's a great place to foster that," says Runkel.

Runkel adds he's educating more people than just his students as he teaches adult classes on the weekends. Runkel has seen a lot of participation from those who want to know how to make quality food.

finalROLFPastry chef Instructor Rolf Runkel takes a break while overseeing his students at SAIT’s downtown culinary campus.
Photo by Allison Badger
Both Runkel and Judkovski are confident that consumer attitudes towards desserts will shift. At least one survey supports their hope.

The Government of Canada consumer trends on baking report illustrates that the frozen dessert industry has been declining since 2011, with the industry expected to continually decrease 4.6 per cent each year up until 2016.

According to Runkel a challenge with the pastry industry is combatting society's love affair with mass-produced food.

"Just about anything that we make in a bakery, in a pastry shop, you can buy mass-produced. So you're faced with challenges of how you're going to make it competitive," says Runkel, adding that consumers must break away from being slaves to "North Americanized" food.

It appears consumers are willing to support this movement, as seen through new pastry shops and higher quality bakeries opening up in Calgary's downtown such as La Boulangerie, Yann Haute Patisserie, and Ollia Macarons and Tea.

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