Culinary Arts grad fulfils life’s dream by opening Chez Angela | Assiniboine Community College
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Culinary Arts grad fulfils life’s dream by opening Chez Angela

Culinary Arts grad fulfils life’s dream by opening Chez Angela

Written On: 05 July, 2019
Category: Alumni Business Learn By Doing Student Spotlight
Related programs:  Culinary Arts

When Angela Haverstock and James Chambers were dating in high school, they would watch movies together at Brandon’s Strand Theatre.

Today, the Strand has been demolished and the longtime married couple have integrated some of its brick walls and wooden beams into their business, Chez Angela Bakery and Café.

“When we heard that it was being torn down last year, I got obsessed with the idea that we need to get some of that brick,” James Chambers said.

Angela Chambers added, “Now it’s on our wall. These benches are made out of wood beams from the Strand, too. We wanted it to look a little eclectic and rustic.”

Angela is a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at Assiniboine Community College, Class of 2017. Opening the bakery and café with her husband was the fulfilment of a life’s dream, based on the learning she received at Assiniboine.

“I started at a different time in my life than most people do. I was 37 when I went back to school. I had stayed home with our kids up to that point,” Angela said, as she and James took a few minutes away from work to sit down in the café.

“I always loved baking. That was what I naturally gravitated towards in the program. When you’re baking from a recipe book, it gives you instructions, but it doesn’t tell you why you’re supposed to do it.I really appreciated learning why we do things the way we do,” she said.

The couple spent many years travelling, trying out restaurants and coffee shops, and remembering what they liked and didn’t like about their various experiences.

Angela Chambers and husband.

“James and I had been talking about what I was going to be doing once I was done school. I had mentioned to him that it might be fun to have a little bake shop. One day, he picked me up at school with Chez Angela logos on the van,” Angela recalled.

The couple spent a year operating out of a booth at Brandon’s Global Market, trying out recipes, and building their brand recognition and customer base.

They opened their own bakery and café in July 2018. Chez Angela wants to be known for its high-quality natural ingredients, locally-sourced as much as possible.

While buying local sometimes costs a little bit more initially, the policy more than pays for itself, the couple agreed.

The local ingredients taste better and last longer than competing products from outside Manitoba, reducing food waste and allowing them to make personal connections with producers, they said.

“The bread side of it is my passion,” Angela said. “Our sourdough, I find, is amazing. Every day, there’s no commercial yeast in it. It’s all naturally-leavened. It’s stuff that we built up over two years. Every day, when it proofs in the oven, I’m still shocked by it.”

Chez Angela is a live music venue every Friday through the fall, winter and spring. Admission is free for three weeks out of the month. One week a month they sell tickets to a Culinary Concert, which includes food created in the bakery.

The business is a family affair.

James, a software architect, created the website, allowing customers to pre-order baked goods or take out a year’s subscription to artisan breads. He also created Bakebot, artificial intelligence that sends messages and reminders to customers.

Son Andy, 15, washes the dishes. Daughter Olivia, 9, stamps bags with the Chez Angela logo. Son Brandon, 17, frequently eats there and will be following in his mother’s footsteps, enrolling in Interactive Media Arts at Assiniboine this fall.

Angela’s advice to anyone thinking of taking Culinary Arts:

“Do it, for sure. It’s a great program. You have to want to work hard. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not a normal 9 to 5 kind of job. Take advantage of the chefs that we have up there. They’re all really talented. You can learn a lot from them if you want to.”

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