My late husband and Master Pastry Chef Gerard Burg owned a business in Toronto called We Make It; You Bake It. This is how we thought of our website name ubakestrudel.com. Gerry and I married in 2009; he was 75 and I was 69.
We decided to come to Lake Cowichan and retire, but instead, when we got here, we started a business . He was previously a Master Pastry Chef and had 60 years of experience. He was the youngest student, at 22 years of age, to earn his Master's diploma from the St. Nicholas Culinary School in Amsterdam. After this, he went on to become a chef on the famous Blue Train in South Africa and eventually became a pastry chef at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.
He owned many businesses in Toronto, but always wanted to produce his beef strudels which he created some 50 years ago in Holland. Gerry knew that his unique Puff Pastry (that he invented aged 19 in Amsterdam) was something special. We knew it would be absolutely unique to our new business.
And so, we started our business together: Gerard's Specialty Foods, which specifically manufactures the beef strudels as well as chicken and salmon. We also make fruit strudels with blueberry, cherry and apple. Our products come in 2 sizes, family and individual.Gerry's dough-making technique is one of our closely guarded secrets.
We sell to the grocery stores, hotels, markets and restaurants on Vancouver Island, as well as Salt Spring Island. We recently opened a take-out, where customers can buy our products ready-to-eat.
Where Namecheap Came in...
We realized an online presence would be a really important element of our business. When we began to develop our website, ubakestrudel.com, we were really novices, but Namecheap was so helpful in advice and assistance. Your team never made me feel stupid or silly with questions I asked.
We needed lots of information, and we were sent tons on everything, from domain names to keywords, by your advisors. One of them also suggested we get a website manager — who has been with us ever since!
The business grew...
My brother became our Vice-President and my son our Director of Sales and Marketing; his wife is our Research and Development Director. All our products are make by hand; we can produce 10,000 strudels per day in our plant. The family operates like a finely-tuned machine; we have often said that if the family was no longer involved, none of us would be. All decisions are made as a unit.
Gerry had incredible skills and unbelievable energy that helped our business to grow, but sadly, he became ill in 2016 and trained his step-son to take over. My son is now our President and CEO. We opened our take-out this summer and it is doing well.
I do know that Namecheap started Gerard's Specialty Foods Ltd. on the path to success.
What the future holds
We are looking at introducing some new items, such as a Cornish Pasty — an original recipe. My grandmother was a Cornish lass, and she made them at home. Gerry was also experimenting with a Cordon Blu contained in Puff Pastry.
If Glenda could pick a real superpower
I'd like the power to make people think and assimilate. So many times, it is obvious that people may read signs or instructions, but do not (or cannot) assimilate the information.
One innovation she'd wish for to help her business
It might be to be able to create Puff Pastry, gluten free — but it is not possible. Gerard tried, but the pastry lost its light and fluffy nature and was quite tough. If Gerry couldn't make gluten-free Puff Pastry, no one can!