Afroditi celebrates 40 years of baking bread and Greek pastries in Parc-Extension
This Saturday, September 17, Afroditi invites its customers to travel back in time, all the way to 1971, when the Saint-Roch Street bakery first opened. "We’re going to have an old fridge and an old counter that we found and refurbished, then we’re going to present pastries, cookies and dried goods that were made here in the 70s, and sell them at the price of the 70s," says executive pastry chef Christos Hatzimarkos, who’s been working at Afroditi since 1996. "It’s a labour of love. It’s a seven-days-a-week operation, so if you don’t enjoy what you do, chances are your work will reflect how you feel."
Clearly happy at work, Hatzimarkos lovingly bakes everything from cakes to cookies, viennoiseries and Greek specialties such as bougatsa, galaktoboureko, kataifi, melomakarona and some truly delicious baklava. "The field of pastry is in constant evolution. There are classics that always stay the same, but even in those classics, there are always a few twists," he explains. "The baklava is one that’s pretty much stayed the same, but we’ve tried to tweak the recipe. For example, a lot of Greek bakeries used shortening before, but we’ve evolved over time to using fresh butter, and then clarified butter."
The Karagiannidis family, which has been running Afroditi since 1981, has worked hard to always maintain the same high level of quality at their establishment, which has never moved but has gone through some major renovations over the years and is now nearly three times the size it was originally.
Another constant at Afroditi is its loyal clientele. "We see a lot of the same faces, including Greeks that have moved away from Parc-Extension but who still come back to the old neighbourhood, either for the churches or the pastry shops," says Hatzimarkos, who also mentions that they constantly serve more non-Greeks, with whom strong bonds develop as well. "Bakeries are tied into the culture of people. For almost every step of life there’s a celebration, and in that celebration, there’s always cake and pastries," he points out, referring to baby showers, first communions, weddings and so on. "It’s something that we cherish; you can’t put a price on something like that. It’s more than just, ‘Here’s a cake,’ ‘Here’s money.’ It’s much more than that."
Know an event, person or issue we should cover in this page? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.