Naujaat’s is the only member Co-op store in Nunavut with its own bakery, and Cheryl Siusangnark is the baker.
“Cheryl is our main baker, and she’s our cake decorator. We do cakes in here as well, and she’s got talent like I’ve never seen in the North for doing cakes. She’s an extremely talented lady,” said general manager Troy Leblanc.
Siusangnark, a self-taught cake decorator, agreed to answer a few questions by email.
Her love of baking and cake decorating drew her to the job.
“One day I decided to bake a cake and decorate with an NHL logo. I then realized I loved doing it and have been doing it since. I did lots of baking before and that’s another reason I wanted to work in the bakery,” Siusangnark stated.
Leblanc explained it’s not a typical bakery.
“Because if you were to bake from scratch, the products would be much more expensive. We get what’s called Bake Off. It’s a frozen loaf of bread, we proof it and it rises. Then we bake it off,” said Leblanc.
“We use that white bread for various things. We make raisin bread, cinnamon buns, different pastries, doughnuts, several different types of bread, French bread. So you can use the same item to make different things.”
Baking takes place five days a week, sometimes six.
Susannah Mablik, a second baker, is strictly on the breads and pastries.
“She’ll do anything else except for the cakes.”
The bakery also serves freshly prepared sandwiches, sub sandwiches and French bread sandwiches.
Leblanc says he only buys the bakery bread, even though the store carries other brand-name breads.
“I don’t like the loaf of bread that comes up already baked. I buy my bread from the bakery because it’s the closest thing you’re going to get to homemade bread in the North. It is really good.”
Siusangnark eats the bakery products “all the time. Sometimes too much,” she states, with a smiling emoticon.
“My favorite cake I made was a wedding cake for a community member here in Naujaat. I really loved how it came out. People really like the cakes as we can customize them with edible prints like a picture or a favorite sports team, etc.”
Asked if she ever hears back from customers, Siusangnark responded that “people always say they love my cake decorating and my baking. Knowing this really makes me feel really good.”
Leblanc says some people in the community only buy bakery bread, but because it is a bit smaller than a pre-baked loaf, some larger families opt for the typical sliced bread off the shelf.
“Some people will only buy the bakery bread as a treat,” he said.
“The people really love the bakery, especially the flaky buns – they are everybody’s favorite,” stated Siusangnark.
Leblanc said a baker will be coming up to Naujaat to train Siusangnark on a few tricks and tips, as well as how to make new items and sweets.
The bakery, included in the plans for a new store that opened in 2012, was a long-held dream for the former manager.
“John Kaufmann, the manager here for 17 years, it was always his goal to get a bakery. It happened,” Leblanc said. “There have been several staff trained throughout the years. It’s a bonus to the community, for sure. It’s not often you get home-baked goods except from your own kitchen. And who wants to bake all the time?”