ALFRED, ONT. —
In the village of Alfred, they’re baking up a taste of European Christmas.
“For everyone, there’s something here,” said co-owner, Heidi Suter.
And hand-rolled into every morsel is a guarantee of goodness.
“I refuse to produce something I will not eat,” said Heidi’s husband and co-owner, Willy Suter.
It’s a philosophy Willy learned as a young pastry chef in Switzerland.
“I was 13 years old when I started to work on my holidays in bakeries, so that’s 40 years ago.”
“I loved it. And I loved the responsibility they started to give me after a while. That gave me the drive to do it,” said Suter.
Willy and Heidi came to Canada in the 1990s. For years, the couple has been sharing European baked delicacies at markets and craft shows in eastern Ontario.
However, the pandemic ended that tradition. So, they started another.
“We thought we’d open a small store right here where the bakery is and see what happens.
“And the response was just overwhelming,” said Heidi, her eyes smiling above the top of her mask.
From late October until the end of December, the bakery is gingerbread central, stollen station, and a Christmas cookie capital.
“I can just see people sitting at a table and pointing at a tray and saying, ‘this is my favourite cookie,’” said bakery employee, Jeannine Bastien.
“When you look at a plate of their cookies, there’s 17 kinds of cookies on it. I think it really does tie the family together.”
“There are a lot of European specialties that people would know who grew up in Germany, Switzerland or Austria,” said Heidi.
“Our products are delicious because we use clean ingredients—all butter and unbleached flour,” said Willy.
“We love what we’re doing and I think people see that and like that and come in and shop.”
For many customers, Heidi and Willy’s taste of Europe also offers a taste of home.
“I’m German, so it’s just a natural to come and buy homemade German goods,” said one customer.
“You get these homemade treats. It kind of reminds you of when you were a kid going to your grandmother’s house,” said another.
“The marzipan and gingerbread are really great,” said a shopper, filling a large box with her favourites.
When not baking for Christmas, the bakery is making cookies year round here.
“It’s the best cookie in the world,” said employee Isaac Bullinger.
Willy and Heidi’s bakery is home to Aunt Lizzie’s cookies—a tasty rolled-oat cookie that comes in three flavours—all butter, almond and maple.
“People taste them, and they get addicted. They can’t stop,” laughs Bullinger.
The bakery supplies grocery stores, retail chains and shops in Ontario, Quebec and the United States.
The demand for Aunt Lizzie’s cookies is widespread.
“We make one hundred thousand containers a year,” said Willy Suter.
“People taste them, and a smile comes up on their face,” said Bullinger.
And for a bakery in the smile business, that’s the ultimate taste of satisfaction.
Making people happy, in any season, is the best part of the job.
The Bakery of Heidi and Willy is located at 4979 County Rd. 17 in Alfred, Ont. You can reach them by phone at 613-858-2880.
It is open Dec. 20-23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It reopens Dec. 29, 30, and 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.