New Biz: La Dolce Vita Bakery
From six years in film and television to a Red Seal Certified Pastry Chef baking bread and sweet treats. That is exactly what Anita Armenti-Nadon did. She left her job as a video editor for a TV network in Toronto as she felt like something was missing and she realized money was not everything.
Heading back to the Niagara Region in 2011 with her husband Troy, who at the time was in the automotive trade, Anita started culinary school at Niagara College. She soon realized that she disliked cooking and being a line cook was hard work. She decided to take the Bakers Apprenticeship program and found what was missing.
At school she was able to compete in the Ontario Technological Skills Competition in which she took 4th place in 2014. The following year she was determined to bring home a medal. It was tough and she wanted to quit, but with the support and help from those around her she pushed on. Even though her teachers did not choose her to compete the second time in the skills competition, she was chosen by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. With her determination to prove her teachers wrong, Anita went on to take second place and was invited back in 2016 to be a judge for the secondary and post secondary skills competition. She is currently training the Lakeshore Catholic Baking Team every Monday afternoon.
La DOLCE Vitamins the sweet life in Italian. It was a name she picked out back when she started considering opening her own bakery in 2011. It began as “i dolce” which means the sweets in Italian, and then to Dolce Vita and finally La Dolce Vita.
Starting small in her home with a health inspected kitchen back on January 27, 2015. Anita used social media, family and friends to help grow her baking business. With a small menu consisting of squares and cookies it started to rise. That first Valentines Day she offered sugar cookies individually wrapped for schools and it was a huge success. Then came in the orders for weddings and even hockey jerseys with customizable names and numbers.
In the summer of 2015 they had a booth at the Welland Market to grow their business even further. They now have a lot of their customer from the market coming in to the store.
This past July the two decided to take it a step further and open a bakery on Main Street in Port Colborne. With lots of help from family members, a few friends and teachers from Niagara College providing extra hands on training, they were up and running. After working apart for so many years and barely seeing each other, Anita and her husband work side by side to run the bakery.
The first month was hard, as all of her training was from restaurant work. It was difficult to keep up with customer requests and keeping the shelves stocked. Not knowing how much was going to be needed each day. “It was a learning experience, each week was getting better,” Anita said. “I have a lot of passion in what I do. I love the adrenaline of it.”
From the automotive trade to working in a bakeshop “it is not a job, it is a lifestyle” said Troy. “A job you go home, a lifestyle you are always thinking about things, did I do this, did I do that.”
La Dolce Vita Bakery products are made with premium ingredients and no additives or preservatives. All of the pie crusts are hand made with real butter and all of the pie fillings are made in house with premium ingredients – no pail filling here! Everything from cookies, squares to bread is made from scratch in the bakeshop. Anita knows exactly what goes into each item, so when customers ask about particular ingredients she can rest assured there will be no problems. There is a real science to knowing how different ingredients react and how to use them. On the odd occasion she has had to call Troy in to redo a batch of bread for the next day.
Even the bakery and store is down to a science now. Troy hand shapes all of the breads and has become very good at it. With making 50 loaves of bread a day and more on weekends, Which is three times the amount from when they first opened up. The bakery is seeing on average 10 new customers a day plus their regular ones. They do have a few local restaurants that they do supply.
Currently the bakeshop employs a full-time and part-time employee plus three students who work after school and on weekends.
When the pair have some free time they are members of Niagara Wind Riders and enjoy revolution flying (kites with four lines) and Troy can be found at the Port Colborne Judo Club. Anita also enjoys baking tasty treats for their two dogs and when time permits has some at the bakery for customers dogs too.
La Dolce Vita Bakery is located at 331 Main Street, Port Colborne and is open Tuesday – Friday 8 -6, Saturdays 8-5 and closed Sundays and Mondays. You can call the store at 289-836-9600 for pre-orders or inquires.