Sunday, September 24, 2023

The best thing since sliced bread

Chapeau bakery serves up European and Canadian style baked goods

Connor Lalande
Chapeau July 20, 2023
“I’ve been baking since I was six years old,” said owner, operator and namesake of Karl’s Bakery, Karlheinz Gmeiner.
Renowned by those in the know for its delectable Chelsea buns, melt-in-your mouth butter tarts, fluffy bread loaves and friendly customer service, Karl’s is a Chapeau staple. A bakehouse extraordinaire on a mission to provide locals and visitors alike with the finest of German and Canadian style baked goods, Karl’s has built for itself a deserved reputation for quality throughout the Pontiac.
Walking through the doors of Karl’s bakery, the nose is met with enticing aromas. A joyous blend of sweet and savoury scents beckons you towards the bounty of pastries contained within the shop’s display case. Butter tarts, cookies, pies and practically any other succulent treat one could imagine are piled high, making the task of choosing what to get a difficult one.
“I had to come back for more, these things are just too good,” a gruff-looking construction worker says as he pays for a generous helping of assorted pastries.
“I like the Chelsea buns,” responds his co-worker, mouth half-full as he goes in for another bite.
Behind the counter, a rack displaying the vast array of freshly baked bread loaves wait to be picked up by hungry customers. A mix of multigrain, whole wheat, white and sourdough loaves slightly obscure the view of Gmeiner working diligently behind, mixing, kneading and efficiently placing items in the oven.
Gmeiner started Karl’s in 1996. An immigrant from the Black Forest region of Germany, Gmeiner did a three-year baking apprenticeship before traversing the vast waters of the Atlantic Ocean with a dollar and a dream.
“It was always my dream to have my own bakery,” Gmeiner said. “And I knew that I was probably not going to achieve that in my homeland. So, I emigrated to Canada and started here as a baker, where I worked for a couple of years.”
Soon after he arrived, Gmeiner found himself employed at a German bakery in Pembroke where he continued to hone his craft and save up money. With the building Karl’s now resides in coming up for sale, Gmeiner decided to seize the moment and go into business for himself – a decision he does not regret.
“When you work for someone else, you make them profit, and I wanted to make money for myself,” Gmeiner said.
Gmeiner heavily credits the support of organizations like SADC for helping finance his business and continuing to support him throughout the 27 years he has been servin’ up the goods to Chapeau and beyond. Recently, with the support of SADC, Gmeiner has been able to purchase a state-of-the-art, Bertrand Puma commercial mixer – a linchpin in any self-respecting bakery.
“They have been fundamentally helping me for almost 27 years,” Gmeiner said of SADC appreciatively as he stood beside his new mixer.
Having yet to lose his love for baking, Gmeiner still makes time to savour his baked creations, even if he’s enjoyed them countless times.
“Because I grew up in Germany, I really like the European style pastries. My favourite are the walnut croissants I make, I definitely eat those,” Gmeiner said with a smirk.


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