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PASTRY SHOP PERFECTION New metal detection equipment helps family-owned bakery grow from quaint momand-pop status into a Big League player ANDREW JOSEPH, FEATURES EDITOR PHOTOGRAPHY: COLE GARSIDE


here’s probably a reason why “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can” is part of the oldest and arguably most well-known English nursery rhyme, making its first appearance in print back in 1698. While children nowadays know the rhyme as part of a hand-clapping game between two friends, it has survived over 300 years because the role of the baker in society has always been an important one. In days of olde, bakers were responsible for the manufacture of bread—a daily staple of many a community. Although certain skillsets and equipment have changed and improved over the years, the popularity of baked goods has, if anything, increased, as nowadays bread and other baked products such as muffins have become a huge component of one’s daily food intake. It’s a long-standing respect for the past with a long-hard look to the future that has one west Toronto bakery beaming with pride as it moves beyond the status of a respectable mom-and-pop shop to one where some of Canada’s largest retailers are only too happy to hawk their wares. Situated within an SQF code-certified 60,000-square-foot facility in west Toronto, Del’s Pastry Ltd. is a family-owned business making, baking and packaging a host of tasty turnovers, delicious Danish, tantalizing tarts, and provocative pies, as well as mouth-watering gourmet cookies, muffins, loaf, dessert and coffee cakes. Although officially in business for 50 years, opening its door as Del’s in 1963 within a 400-squarefoot store front, the owners purchased an existing business, albeit one that was experiencing its fair share of financial difficulties. “My parents took over the business from the previous owner in 1963, after he had some trouble running it,” says vice-president of operations Tom Mattes, who along with his sister Sandra, the vicepresident of administration and logistics, run the day-to-day operations of Del’s. Turning around the fortunes of the business was simply a matter of the new owners simply offering a greater variety of products for the existing customer base, as it grew from a small storefront operation supplying coffee trucks and vending machines to one supplying large retail grocers, as well as the food service industry. “My father, Benno, who is currently the principle, says that when he first set up the business, he noticed that Toronto seemed to have a plethora of bread manufacturers, but correctly believed that the fresh pastries sector was the way to stand-out and succeed,” Mattes told Canadian Packaging during a recent visit to the facility. Nowadays, thanks to the efforts of its 110 employees, Del’s Pastry has 16-franchised delivery routes while producing 12,000 muffins and 5,000 pastries


Michael Lerman, Maintenance Supervisor

per hour, supplying fresh as well as frozen product with direct store delivery to such retailers as No Frills, Food Basics, Ikea, Costco, Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys and Freshco Banners, as well as to a host of independent stores. With all product under the Del’s banner baked right on site, the company actually utilizes two brands: the Traditional brand which offers products such as muffins and assorted pastries; and the higher-end Indulgence brand offering consumers cookies, Danish rings and coffee cakes. Although highly proud of their own successes with the Del lines of pastries, the bakery is also very pleased with the success it has achieved in getting its baked goods into private label hands.

Private Matters According to Del’s Pastry maintenance supervisor Michael Lerman, some 20 per cent of the baked output is actually done for private—some 10 SKUs (stock-keeping units) that are produced specifically for retail grocer giants Costco, Sobeys, Loblaw, Metro and Whole Foods. Running two baking shifts a day, five days a week. Lerman says that Del’s is a national supplier, that generally runs two production lines, but depending on the product mix, a third line is set-up.

Sandra Mattes, Vice-president of Administration and Logistics

Tom Mattes, Vice-president of Operations, Del’s Pastry Ltd.

“About 95 per cent of our production goes into segments across Canada, with the remainder to the U.S. market,” mentions Lerman. “But we do have plans to aggressively tackle the markets to south soon enough.” Having enough capacity to expand production is important for any company, and Del’s is no exception having performed some recent facility upgrades in 2010 when it added a freezer and storage space. “Our most recent addition was the building of a 3,000-square-foot freezer that allows us to keep our finished goods inventory in-house, rather than having to ship to outside carriers,” explains Mattes. “Plus, we added a 3,000-square-foot storage area which has opened up and increased our production space, which we have used to add a brand new fully-automated dough laminating line from Rademaker to make specialty puff pastries and sweet doughs.” In December of 2011, Del’s Pastry purchased a top-of-the-line, automated turn-key Radini system built by the Dutch-firm Rademaker, that readies dough after ingredient mixing to f latten and layer it to make what Lerman describes are the f lakiest pastries a bakery can possibly produce. “To create a really f laky product, it’s important


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