A Salmon Arm baker and trained pastry chef has brought her talents back home.
Kate Boutillier was raised in Salmon Arm, but moved away right after high school to pursue her dream: baking and perfecting pastries. She visited infrequently during her young adult life, she said, but on one trip home she felt a difference in Salmon Arm, a younger and more vibrant feel, and decided to move back shortly after.
As she settled back in town, Boutillier entered the 2022 Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur competition, hoping to kick start a local storefront where she could sell her cakes and treats and introduce Salmon Arm to the world of upscale pastry with Flake Pastry and Chocolate.
A friend who has since passed away was instrumental in getting Boutillier to compete, she said. He came from Alberta wanting to open a coffee shop in Salmon Arm and they were working together at first.
“It was an excellent experience, and fantastic for meeting people in the community, so I thank him,” Boutillier said.
After winning third place in Launch-a-Preneur, she said most of her winnings went to legal and corporation fees, “none of the exciting stuff,” and her first year in business was spent at farmers’ markets and the Zest Food Hub’s night market events.
She was pregnant at this time as well, so her personal life was just as busy as her new business, she said.
When the market season was over, Boutillier said she went to PJ’s restaurant in Centenoka Mall and saw an open space, after Florabella Decor moved its storefront across the mall.
“I thought, since we move all our stuff from our kitchen to markets, why not do that whenever our open hours at the mall are? Why wouldn’t that work?”
After applying to Community Futures for a small business loan, renovating the mall space slightly, updating signage and buying a new oven and display case, Flake officially opened in February 2023.
“I underestimated the financial investment that goes into renovating a space – I’m kind of thinking this might be more of a launch pad location, but I’m not sure,” said Boutillier. “It’s kind of grassroots. But, Purdy’s business model is in malls, so maybe we do want to do that.”
With plans to eventually expand Flake, Boutillier wants to find the right staff to move forward, especially a trained pastry chef to help offset some of her workload with a new baby in tow.
“Even just somebody who has inspiration to learn, because for now I can only do so much. I don’t want to outsource parenting my children!” Boutillier laughed. “It’s trying to find a happy medium right now. I do feel bad I can’t be open five or six days a week, but the community is fantastic and maybe just don’t know my story.”
Boutillier has an extensive history in the restaurant industry, having served and cooked in commercial kitchens, baking and honing her pastry chef skills. She also draws on her upbringing in a family that gardened and prioritized fresh food, with a mother and grandmother who fostered her interest in baking.
After attending Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, Boutillier worked at Karat Chocolate in Kelowna. She also has her fair share of competition experience, having competed in Junior Chef of the Year in 2012, winning regionals in Kelowna, provincials in Vancouver and nationals in Edmonton. She was also on Team Culinary, living in Vancouver to train with the team and go on to compete in Switzerland.
“The industry was a rude awakening, I’ll be honest – it’s male-dominated, rough, fast-paced and there’s not a lot of margin for error. But it’s exciting. I fell in love with the fast-paced bit of theatre that is the restaurant industry and the rest is history.”