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Best of Red Deer: Red Deer baker's mantra is "Make Life Sweeter"

Arrae Pâtisserie takes silver in Best of Red Deer bakery category

Elvis is in the bakery.

The pastry ode to the King of Rock 'n Roll is on display next to sweet salutes to Willy Wonka child nemesis Violet Beauregarde and TV's Friends Fun Bobby.

Arrae Pâtisserie owner Jenna Schmidek's mantra is "Make Life Sweeter" and clearly she believes in having a few laughs along the way.

Take her Elvis pastry for example. It is an ode to the swivel-hipped superstar's legendary peanut butter and banana sandwiches. In Schmidek's talented hands, banana bread, banana caramel, peanut praline, peanut mousse and white chocolate glaze are combined.

Feeling blue? Maybe the Violet Beauregarde is for you. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory fans will remember Violet as the gum-chewing, obnoxious chocolate factory visitor who morphs into a giant blueberry before being hauled off to the juicer for reconstitution. Sweet dough, vanilla sponge, blueberry cremeux, blueberry compote, vanilla mousse and white chocolate glaze are brought together in a  tasty tribute to that over-bearing child.

The Fun Bobby is concocted from chocolate sable, Bailey's cremeux, coffee chocolate mousse, and chocolate glaze. Friends fans and Gen Xers will get the tipsy reference. The rest of you can Google it.

Schmidek grew up in Spruce View and had her eyes on a career catering to the public early on. She graduated from Red Deer College with a hospitality and tourism diploma and then her love of baking drew her to SAIT, where she graduated from its baking and pastry arts program.

From there, she went to Canmore and worked in a bakery for about nine years, taking courses to expand her skills in Montreal, San Francisco and Las Vegas, where she did a five-month internship with a top pastry chef.

"About then it was time for me to come home and open up my own shop," she says.

Arrae Pâtisserie opened its doors at 3701 50th Ave. about three months ago and landed a silver in the Best Bakery category of Red Deer Advocate's Best of Red Deer supplement.

"I've always liked the hospitality industry. One of the things that got me into it when I was younger was I wanted to do a bit of travelling and do my job at the same time.

"That's what got me into it initially. Then I found my love of baking and discovered that it was something I was somewhat good at. From there, I focused more so on it and it has led me to where I am now."

As a child, she loved her grandmother's baking and over time took over much of the family baking herself.

Opening up her own bakery has been a new challenge. "We're still trying to figure it out day by day and see what it is that Red Deer and area wants and trying to meet those needs.

"So far, it's been going well."

Schmidek strives to put her own taste spin on danishes, croissants and carrot cake and also has a range of cookie sandwiches, including the Cotton Candy, which features cotton candy buttercream "smushed" between two sugar cookies.

She is loving running her own bakery, she says.

The best part is seeing how impressed customers are when they come in and see what she has pulled from the oven and painstakingly decorated and the joy they get from her creations.

That feeling will never get old, she says.

Being a baker means her days start at 5 a.m. and plenty of weekends and holidays. But she wouldn't have it any other way.

"I've known for a long time this is going to be my fate. If I didn't love what I do it wouldn't be worth it. But it absolutely is."







Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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