As a historian, Amelie was fascinated by Christmas cookie traditions in countries around the world. She traveled extensively through Europe to research the lost traditions, scouring books, studying old photographs, seeking out family recipes and exploring Christmas markets for more information. After many years, she perfected her own gingerbread cookie recipes and launched Storica.
How did you get started with Storica and were there any challenges when starting your business?
Storica started a long time ago, even before I new that I wanted to start a company. As a history student, I collected articles about food-related traditions in other countries, especially Christmas traditions. By the end of my masters, I’d completed lots of research and was ready to produce some kind of publication. In the summer of 2010 I was visiting a friend in Belgium when I stumbled upon intricately carved wood molds for Speculoos cookies. At this moment I thought, what if, instead of telling a Christmas story through a rather dry article only specialists would read, I could reach a broader range of people by telling a story in a much more sensorial way. With something that people could see, touch, eat and share. So this is how it started.
Now about challenges. There was many. Starting a business is a road filled with challenges, isn’t it? Challenges and great moments of joy. When I look back, I realize how bold it was to start a business in the food industry when I had no diploma or technical formation in that field. In my first year of operation I had to work hard and learn a lot, on top of the accounting, web designing, marketing and other tasks you have to do when starting a business. In a way, I still feel more like a historian in the kitchen than a baker!
What are the techniques that you learned when building your craft?
Aside from molding cookies which is more of an art than a technique – in France for example, there was once a guild for Gingerbread Makers and you were required to be a member in order to make and sell gingerbread – I have learned that you can cook with gingerbread and include it a range of savoury dishes! It is a world in itself to explore. I’ve seen gingerbread with cheeses, meats and even scallops!
Last week Storica was part of an event called Sugar and Spice in the Montreal area and I had a chef create a roasted pumpkin spread and cheddar crostini topped with my gingerbread crumble. A discovery! Here are some fun ideas: a cheesecake crust, pair with roasted duck or salmon, in a leek and Béchamel crumble or serve with oven baked peaches and mascarpone.
What is your favorite holiday cookie recipe?
As a kid I use to make chocolate and vanilla rolled marble cookies with my brother for the holidays, but no surprise here, I still prefer gingerbread! If Christmas had a smell, it would be cinnamon and ginger for me, along with oranges and a Christmas tree of course!
How would you spend your “perfect food day”?
If budget was not an issue… Italy. I would be in the Italian countryside. Maybe in Umbria for an outdoor dinner in a backyard with friends, neighbours and people I work with. I would have seafood, good wine served in a jug, grilled vegetables, and lots of pasta cooked with homemade olive oil, garlic, herbs and Parmigiano. Every time I have the chance to experience something like that, I remember thinking even just for a brief moment between laughs and conversations, this is life.
Try Amelie’s gingerbread cookies on FoodiePages.ca.