I had a chance to attend the grand opening celebrations of the new Above and Beyond Cupcakes in Welland. This new gourmet bakery is a product of the passion and sugar obsession of Ryan Hegedus and Stacey Clare. With the support of their families, friends, and the community at large they had a successful grand opening on July 7th, 2012 in Welland.
Even the mayor of Welland, Barry Sharpe, was able to attend the ribbon cutting celebration. Unfortunately being a weekend in the middle of festival season the Welland Tribune was unable to attend and cover the event. This was not a problem for Above and Beyond Cupcakes, part of their business is reaching out through social media and there were a half dozen cameras handled by their online supporters.
Pastry Chefs from Welland
It hasn't been a spontaneous creation, the cupcake boom is partially a product of pastry chef Michael Olson and his wife Anna Olson. Michael trains new chefs at Niagara College, and his incredibly popular program has allowed many ambitious young people to ear their white crown. Anna Olson is a celebrity chef and is involved with the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls. Anna is also an ambitious pastry chef that lives in Welland, she and her husband had a chance to congratulate Ryan and Stacy on the day of their grand opening.
Above and Beyond Cupcakes Welland is not the only place in town to get a great cupcake, it is a part of the new food culture in Welland. As a city Welland has been known for being a transportation hub between the lakes, an electrical superpower in the 20th century that fed dozens of factories, and a place for big families and lots of celebrations. Wile there are fewer ships stopping in Welland, fewer factories, and fewer large families for the time being there is still an abundance of celebration. Celebrations at Festivals, Weddings, Award Banquests, Sports Tournaments, and more feed into this need for food.
The Welland Cupcake Boom is fuelled by the skilled daughters of hard-working factory workers. Just like their mothers and fathers they are not afraid of the heat, long hours, or strange scents that they encounter at work. Albeit the scents at work in this era are much nicer, every job at a bakery is essentially a new factory job in Welland. It will require technicians to repair the industrial mixers, ovens, freezers, and numerous other tools of the trade and these jobs would not exist otherwise. It is easy for people to dismiss a cupcake shop or a flower shop since they are smaller than factories and greenhouses - but they are they same type of business and deserve the same type of respect. While I know this sounds really funny - if you want to respect workers in Welland then slow down and buy a box of cupcakes that were Made in Welland.