When Elisabete Ferreira went vegan, she knew her options would be limited.
“I had issues with gluten and dairy so I’ve seen the spectrum of restrictions that are out there,” she says. “If you wanted to go out and get something that was vegan or dairy-free, it was a struggle.”
So building upon her love of food, she started looking at recipes she could no longer eat and developing variations that were vegan-friendly.
That work led her to open Picadilly Cakery Nov. 30 in the West Lynde Plaza, Whitby.
“Once I realized there’s a whole creative outlet here, I also realized there’s a lot more I could do… and that’s sort of what started everything,” she says.
“Being able to share something I really enjoy with other people and seeing the joy it brings them…that’s what all of this is about.”
Coming from a long line of bakers in a small village in Portugal, Ferreira has been baking for as long as she can remember.
“It was very much a sense of if you needed something, you did it yourself. You didn’t go out and hire somebody or buy something already made,” she says. “So there’s always been that environment of seeing my mom cook, my dad cook, my sisters cook.”
Prior to opening her business, Ferreira cooked in restaurants for more than 20 years.
“We can do really simple things like pancakes up to really fancy, multi-tiered fondant cakes,” Ferreira says. “It’s just really whatever you’re looking for.”
The quirky little shop is filled with a variety of sweet treats and decorated with vintage and handmade items collected by Ferreira and her family over decades.
While she does cater to customers with all dietary tastes, she specializes in making items that are vegan, gluten-free and diabetic-friendly.
“It’s so hard to go find something I’m craving for so it’s good to know that anything I want is only 15 minutes away,” says Natasha Aivaliotis, a vegan customer from Oshawa. “These are great.”
Popular items include traditionally-made brownies, lemon lime tarts, baked mango bars, gingerbread meringues and squares called hello dollies. She also houses up to six different types of cookies such as licorice, sour patch and raspberry, along with standard flavours like chocolate-chip.
“I love creating different things…sometimes it fails and sometimes it’s an amazing discovery,” Ferreira says. “I’m OK either way because that’s part of the adventure.”
Ferreira likes to source raw products as locally as possible.
“We support local shops as best as we can. It’s nice to still have that sense of community where people come by and you know their names,” she says.
Ferreira also believes in giving back to the community around her – baking a birthday cake for every child in the After School Program at Simcoe Hall Settlement House is one way she does it.
“That’s the best part for me…to be able to say I created this but now, that great energy has passed along…I’ve made somebody smile.”