I was six when I first watched the staff, tour groups and members pass by. My mom used to take me to work with her at the McMichael Canadian Art Gallery when I was "too sick" to go to school.
16 years later, on January 19 2013, I started my first official workday at the Gallery. I watched familiar staff, tiny children in uniforms, and guests pass by. Only the second time around, I knew who didn't like mayonnaise, who preferred Diet Coke, and who giggled after eating a fresh chocolate chip cookie.
My first week was about settling in and understanding what people wanted to eat while visiting an art gallery. My first day I made way too much food. We had about five visitors and the construction crew had no idea that there was food for sale. On my secound day I carried a fridge upstairs (it was a mini fridge, but I'm only 5' 3" so from a ratio perspective it was simply, a fridge). My efforts proved beneficial when I got my first regular. I think it was fair to say the my Mom was satisfied with her purchase.
Week two came with a few more customers and about 10 visitors per day while the Gallery was still under renovations. It must have been the aroma of coffee in the morning and the comforting smell of whatever was cooking in the crock pot that attracted new and curious customers in the afternoon. No matter how many people were visiting the gallery, everyday was a good day.
I started every morning at security, where I unloaded my car and signed in.
"Hey Richard." - Me
"Morning Sunshine, how ya doing." - R
"Oh you know, another day." - Me
"If you're alive, it's a good day. Now let me help you with those groceries." - R
It was a mini reality check every morning. Not only was I healthy, but every morning I got to wake up and bake muffins in a restaurant's kitchen (which I had all to myself wahoo!), and then serve them beside a giant window that overlooked a beautiful Canadian forest landscape. I called it my "executive suite." My answer to "how ya doing", should have been, "I AM FREAKING AWESOME!"
By week three I had a slew of regulars including, the site manager whom I cannot imagine without a hardhat on his head and a coffee with three sugars in his hand. We served Muffin-lovers that rediscovered their appreciation for breakfast and others that just followed the scent and the demand from their stomachs. Near the end of the week I had tweaked, added and removed items from the menu to suit everyone's needs. I was also happy to see the positive response of the use of organic ingredients. Customer's were familiar with the organic ingredients and brands that were used, such as Kiju fruit juice, and appreciated the homestyle cooking.
One day during week four I sold most of my freshly baked blueberry muffins ON MY WAY to the Food Kiosk!
Week four led to Family Day which blew my apron off! There was over 500 visitors that day and most of them came hungry. Since we were the only restaurant open that day and most families traveled to see the gallery, we sold out and had to prepare fresh food using three days worth of ingredients! AMAZING! I was lucky to have a great team member working along side me or else there would have been a lot of grumpy guests.
We had our own family day when my Dad offered his assistance one Friday. My mom was thrilled to have her husband at work after 15 years of being there, and her co-workers got a kick out of his frilly poke-a-dot apron and strange sense of humour.
As an opportunist, I strive to make the most of situations on a daily basis. For the past 50 days and 50 nights I devoted my catering hands to feed the Members, Guests and Staff of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. I have met hard workers, friendly Member's and Guests of the McMichael and talented Artist's and Musicians that have been featured in the Gallery's exhibits.
I have fed travellers from all over that wanted to experience a piece of Canadian culture. My goal was to open them up to organic food options and the joy of homestyle cooking in a world of preservatives, processed and preprepared foods.
Each person may have individual tastes but everyone loves to eat delicious food made with the best ingredients.
Seven days a week for 50 days may sound like a ton of work, but it was a great opportunity and learning experience that had me doing exactly what I should be, Creating Organic, one meal at a time.
T'is the season to eat cookies! But don't just choose any cookie, munch on MundelCookies!
I may be biased because I bake them, but they will make anyone's holiday a little sweeter after one crunch.
I want to share these cookies with the world because everyone deserves to eat something delicious.
These cookies sell themselves, but aside from that fact, they are a marketer's "crunchy gold".
The best part of marketing a product this amazing is knowing you are not lying, exaggerating, or offering something that cannot be delivered.
For anyone who has tried a MundelCookie, they can vouch, they are that good.
Next week the MundelCookie team will be traveling through business parks in Toronto as well as local hairdressers and even gyms. (Did I mention, they're that good!) The holidays are approaching fast and MundelBundels make for a great gift for the dinner you have to go to, the one you are hosting or even the holiday party at the office.
One bite and you will be hooked. Let me share them with you by dropping off samples at your office. Email or "like", then message the bundle baker on facebook to request your sample!
Wish you had a personal assistant to do all of the grocery shopping and meal planning? Know that it is probably not going to happen this month? Maybe one day, but likely not this month...
Here is the next best thing! This Free planner is meant to lift your worries about what ingredients you have buy to make dinner, allowing you to grocery shop only twice in one month and making sure you never go without something delicious in the fridge.
Enjoy the PDF printable version by clicking the grocery check list below.
(Additional grocery list is provided for your continuous use)
It is the simplest way to say it...The line that gets you over the hurdle of starting a business. Other people have the ability to use what they know and love to start a business and make loads of money while owning something they have created. Doesn't that sound like something more people would be doing? I think I have discovered why. According to Rob Adams, Author of "If You Build It Will They Come: Three Steps to Test and Validate Any Market Opportunity", over 99 per cent of new businesses fail. Some fail because they did not do their market research and their idea fails. Others don't succeed, not because the idea wasn't great, but because they probably had no business sense.
I get worried that my business might fail because my ideas are too big for just me. I love the management aspect and the creativity of doing everything from scratch, but I keep thinking tomorrow is the day, the day my business will be a huge success. Tomorrow I will be employing 25 people and I will own 15 properties around the world. Obviously I know it is not going to happen over night. Truthfully, I love where my business is at today, I have used my network and skills to get here.
However there are some days that are more difficult than others. The days when things get hard. Everything about being a business owner challenges you instead of motivating you. That is when you have to look around and enjoy where you are. Someone else has been through the hard patch and has come out the other end pretty successfully. So, if they did it with their business I am sure I can do it with mine. Don't worry about doing it better, just focus on what needs to be done and do it. They only one who can make my business a success is me.
I'm not just spewing out words. Honestly I have never put it "on paper" before, and by doing so, I am ready to go full speed ahead. I recently had a catering job for 200 people and I had one of those hard days right before I had to kick it into high gear. I baked enough lemon cake to feed 100, took them out of the oven and.....let's just say, they didn't work out. No biggy, I thought at the time, "this happens, I'll just use a different recipe, right?" The next day I made less cake with a new recipe...50 min later....they came out worse than the day before. It was still not even a big deal, but it just started to make me think that everything that I was going to do for that event is going to mess up! One thought led to the next and I was too nervous to even go to the grocery store. Sounds like I was freaking out right? It was OK because I stopped and realized that I am where I am because I know what I am doing. Something is bound to go wrong. It is NEVER going to happen as you imagine or expect it will. It's how you get yourself over the hurdle that separates you, me and even that guy from everyone else.
HOW IT'S MADE
1) make cake, muffin, sugar cookie or any mix that is close to white
2) ADD FOOD COLOURING
3) BAKE and ENJOY!
"PINK!", was the answer when my mother asked what theme I wanted for my third birthday party. My wish was her command and she did not take the request lightly.
Everything, I mean EVERYTHING was pink. The balloons, the table cloth, my dress, the cake, the lemonade and even the bread of the party sandwiches.
I'm not sure if I thanked her at the time or if I just thought everything was just magically pink. However I do remember being as happy as a princess and everyone else was in awe. I had the prettiest, pinkest party in all the Richmond Hill land.
I will never forget the impression that party left on my life and the great ideas that my past has given my present.
TRY IT with almost any (white) baked good.
This is a picture of pink banana muffins, which would be adorable at any breakfast/brunch celebration for baby showers or a girl's birthday party. You can make blue or green if it is a boys party.
Omerazak Lifestyle Corner
Being healthy should not feel like a priority. It should be something so simple that it causes no stress or doubt in your day. I am not saying you should be running everyday and eating the exact suggested portion of each of the food groups. I am not saying that if you walk outside or down the stairs that something bad is going to happen, or if you eat your vegetables you will live to see past 100. My message here is an obvious one. Appreciate your health.
I am sure you have read and heard lot about the severe health problems that come from ANYTHING.
...Too much stress causes heart attacks
...Looking at the sun can make you blind
...Too much (fake or real) sun can cause cancer
...Sports injuries can cause the inability to move
...Cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis
...You get the point, the list goes on and on.
Knowing that makes me think...
1) Love what I have in my life, use every opportunity to create more.
2) Change is inevitable, it can be positive, be patient, be persistent.
In order to appreciate your health you have to care about your body, how you use it, how you should not use it and what you put into it.
You know that little red flag that waves when you are about to eat something you think you probably shouldn't, like fast food. When you just listen to your instincts and common sense, most health choices are obvious.
Should I eat glue? NO
Should I drink these chemicals? NO
Should I eat a pound of processed cheese? NO
Should I exercise today? YES
Should I drive a little further and get that delicious organic corn? YES
Should I eat 15 of the pickles I just made? Probably Not...
Just remember you are nothing without your health, so appreciate your body by treating it well. You will notice and feel a difference and it will allow you to enjoy the things around you. You have to follow through to see the benefits, saying yes or no is one thing, making it happen is still up to you.
THE RESULTS ARE IN! This was a delicious project!
Rumor has it pesticide, hormone and fertilizer free organic products are more expensive than the mass produced alternative. Locally grown and raised organic products are proven to be healthier than products treated with steroids or ones that have been genetically modified.
I know we understand the positive impact organic products have, now I have to convince you that just because the rumors may be true, the fact of the matter is, 20 cents is just that when you know you are not putting poisons and chemicals into your body.
Are organic products more expensive then non organic?
Where can you get the best price for the best quality ingredients?
I explored five different food suppliers that are common to the public. Keep in mind I stayed between North York and York region and limited my search to five popular grocery stores and markets, including Highland Farms, Longos, Loblaws, and two farmers markets.
It is not a myth, organic products are generally more expensive. However there are exceptions. In some cases I found products to have exactly the same price as its organic counterpart and other times I saw organic to be less expensive.
I bought 10 items from Highland Farms and compared the prices to the non organic items.
Generally, if the items were more expensive it was between .25 to $1.00.
Chicken had the greatest difference.
Organic: $7.00/lb, non-organic $5.00/lb
(For two dollars more, you see that the chickens are raised and fed with completely different standards compared to when they are not organic, all that and a difference in flavour).
Organic juice, flour and mini carrots were less expensive, and yogurt had the same price of $3.99.
After purchasing 10 organic items from Highland Farms I found my bill was $7.40 more expensive than if I had purchased non organic items.
non organic $31.51
I compared that bill to what I would have paid at Longos
non organic $31.13 a differnce of $7.58
For the best organic prices go to
1) Highland farms (Large range and lowest prices)
2) Longos (Good quality, but the prices are higher so the difference between organic and non organic is less)
4) Farmers Markets (Prices are a little high based on the handling process and high quality of food)
Other grocery stores that carry organic products are Metro, Fresh Co., H-Mart and Sobey's. They all vary in prices and diversity of foods. Different areas are heavily influenced by the predominant local culture, which allows for even more flavor in the kitchen.
It is not a surprise that these clean food products are slightly more expensive. As hungry customers we are paying for crop rotations, higher animal welfare standards and a restricted use of chemicals, leading to lower yields, which means organic foods costs more to produce.
As the organic industry develops and technologies are improved, the cost of organic food should decrease as yields increase and production costs decrease. THAT MEANS THE MORE ORGANIC PRODUCTS YOU BUY THE SOONER THE PRICES WILL DECREASE (unlike the cost of non organic food products which are suggested to increase by 2013 up to four per cent).
A.R.T. Creations suggests
If you really want organic food that is friendly to your wallet, the best place to go is your own backyard. Start a small vegetable and fruit garden. The convenience and taste will be well worth it.
It was inevitable. I had to wake and bake this morning. My dreams were full of sugary goodness.
It is the weekend, a perfect time to wake up in the mood for cinnamon buns.
Directly after the buns emerged from the oven, my boyfriend asked me how many were for him. "One," I said sticking to my usual answer. "One is for your sister, one is for your dad, these are for my family, and mine is inmahmoush", I continued to smile with my mouth full.
If you are ever in the mood for some warm cinnamon buns, here is a great recipe. The 30 minutes of work seem like seconds compared to the two minutes it takes to scarf them down.
I use organic and natural ingredients, all of which can be found in your local grocery store. (Highland Farms, Longos, Lablaws etc.)
2 cups of flour
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoons warm butter
3/4 cup milk
3 tsp cinnamon
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup sugar (brown or white)
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup icing sugar
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Cut in butter (works well with hands)
stir in milk until fluffy dough forms
In a separate bowl, mix butter, sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
Flour a smooth surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle.
If you would like to get fancy, cut the edges of the rectangle to make impressive rolls.
Once the dough is 1/4 inch think spread the filling from edge to edge.
Roll the rectangle lengthwise to make a long log.
Cut the log into individual rolls about two-three fingers wide.
Place each roll on a 9x9 inch square pan or a round cake tray with at least an inch separating them.
Bake for 20-25 min.
After cooling for 5-10 min drizzle icing over fresh cinnamon rolls.
Serve warm or microwave before eating.
For a different approach, roll the dough into multiple smaller logs for bite sized cinnamon rolls.
I have always believed in the values that A.R.T. Creations brings to the table, but they are not the reason I preheated the oven in preparation for my first catering job.
Thank you to all of the the hungry people that I have meticulously created menus for. You continue to motivate me to create exceptional organic experiences. All I want to do is make your day better with delicious home cooked food.
I say "everyone deserves to eat well", and my goal is to make that happen.
No matter where I cook I know that I have people supporting me. From the encouragement of my first trial gig for the Humber Students' Federation (three days after registering as a business), to the trust I receive from new customers, I would not be cooking if it were not for you.
It is the people that inspire and encourage you to follow an opprotunity that make the most impact on your life. Whether you believe in an idea, a new path or something unheard of, there are people that believe in you. Next time some one takes the time to listen to you, eye contact and all, let them know you appreciate it by following through. I bake muffins and cookies to show thanks, what can you do to give back to the people that have gotten you where you are today?
To whomever in the past, present and future that I bake a biscuit for, french a fry or wrap a wrap for, know that I am creating it for you. Simply because, you deserve it.
Do one thing that you love, and enjoy everything you do.
I did not grow up wanting to be a cook or a caterer, in fact I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. However, from even before I can remember I did know that I loved to bake. I was a little girl who saw my mother as the Magic Queen Baker and always dreamed to be one myself.
It was simple, when I baked I was comfortable. We just fit together. When I mixed eggs, flour and baking power I knew it was up to my hands to do it right. And it all made sense, even if I was too young to actually know that the baking powder was helping the bubbles in the batter get bigger.
The comfort I felt followed me throughout elementary school when my father convinced me that by starting a cookie business I would be a millionaire by the time I was 14 (didn't happen btw). The comfort was there when I transferred high schools and ended up in my first nutrition class with Miss K, and to University when I had five assignments due but baking at 11 PM did not sound like procrastination at all.
By the time I graduated I realized that the comfortable feeling I had towards my hobby had ignited passion. I still do not know what I want to do for my career, but what I do know is that I love what I am doing right now. One day I still might grow up to be a Magic Queen Baker like my mother, but today I am just as happy being, A.R.T. Creation's Owner, Cook, Coordinator and BAKER.