The scent of baked goods lures visitors to the Victoria Public Market to a bakery tucked away, either at the very front or very back, depending on the entrance one chooses.
Either way, the nose leads the way to Vancouver Island’s first kosher-certified bakery.
Opened as The Bikery in summer 2021, Moshe Appel and wife Leah took the helm late last year and My Way Bikery was born.
While living in Nanaimo, the couple would pick up the kosher goods from Victoria, then Leah figured there were some recipes she would alter, and started the home-based My Way Bakery.
When they considered branching out, and sought advice from their peers at the Public Market, the couple learned the bakery there might be an opportunity.
Moshe and Leah took the plunge and at first dabbled in a more restaurant concept, looking to things such as matzo ball soup and other popular dishes.
“We really tried to initially make it a restaurant setting,” Moshe said.
That didn’t pan out.
Though baked without the impractical wood-fired oven, their Montreal-style bagels are popular but challah bread leads sales.
The kitchen is certified kosher pareve (prepared without meat, milk or their derivatives) and supervised by Rabbi Meir Kaplan of Chabad of Vancouver Island. That means everything used in the bakery is kosher pareve and has never been in contact with meat, dairy or anything non-kosher.
In simplest terms, it’s all certified kosher to the level the rabbi will eat. In fact, Leah made his birthday cake last year.
Moshe wears a yarmulke, making him more readily identifiable as being of Jewish faith, but at work both are constantly explaining the meaning of kosher – to varying degrees.
The answer isn’t simple, but most succinctly it’s a set of dietary laws depending on how religious you are.
At My Way Bikery, they cater to those adhering to religious rules or simply enjoying a taste of Jewish culture.
“You don’t have to be of the faith to be of the food,” Moshe said, though noting Victoria is the fastest-growing Jewish community in Canada.
The couple worries that population alone isn’t enough to keep them afloat.
“We’re creating a market, which is like tunnelling through rock,” Leah explained.
Keeping kosher is a challenge they’re up to – and as a Jewish family, consider important. While serving the locals, visitors also routinely turn to them. Just last week, Leah fed a tourist Orthodox family who couldn’t find an AirBnB with a kosher kitchen.
“Once we get food into people, they come back,” Leah said.
Find My Way online at mywaybikery.ca or in person in the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson, 1701 Douglas St. in Victoria.