The staff of life. Jesus’ gift to the poor. The body of Christ. Small wonder that All Saints Church, located on the mean streets of Toronto’s downtown core, is launching a new training program in bread baking.
Announced aptly on All Saints Day, the All Saints Bread Kitchen will recruit interested trainees from a heavily populated city-run housing project nearby, where the church has been running a satellite drop-in and counselling centre for the past two years. The bread itself will be baked in the kitchens of the church, which caters largely to homeless and couch-surfing people at the gritty corner of Sherbourne and Dundas streets.
The All Saints Bread Kitchen is the brainchild of All Saints business manager, John Stephenson, and will operate on a budget of about $8,000 from the church for the first year’s pilot project. “We hope to get started with recruiting and training in January and have our first bread out of the ovens for Easter week, 2012,” says the Rev. David Opheim, incumbent of All Saints. “Our hope is to find local restaurant owners who are interested in purchasing boutique bread from us for their venues.”
Stephenson’s business plan is to start small, producing just basic white and whole-wheat sandwich loaves. “But we’re excited about speaking with restaurant owners to see what other kinds of bread we could supply,” he says, adding that other customers might be local Anglican churches buying Communion bread and walk-in purchasers at the door.
Recruits will be trained by an owner-operator of a commercial bakery and a resident of the housing site who has chef’s training. Stephenson expects to attract an initial 25 people or so into training and then employment on a rolling schedule. “But that will likely drop down to four to six core people,” he says. He’s aiming to produce about 80 loaves in that first Easter batch.