By Paula Roy –
It’s like an unstoppable reflex. Pretty much everyone who walks through the door of the new Stubbe
Chef Heinrich Stubbe came to Canada almost 30 years ago. A trained pastry chef who initially taught at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute upon arrival in Ottawa, he soon chose to focus on chocolate and legions of customers are grateful he did. Stubbe’s truffles, chocolates, tortes and pastries are all made in-house with the finest ingredients.
Heinrich is proud to note that his daughter Anne, with whom he works, is a sixth generation family member to carry on the proud traditions and techniques established in Germany by their ancestors and the company’s founders in 1845. Likewise, his son Daniel runs the company’s busy Toronto store.
The move from Dalhousie Street on the edge of the ByWard Market to Wellington West has been a good one, says Heinrich. “Having the shop all on one level is great for our staff who also enjoy the open sightlines from the kitchen to the front of the store which means they can interact with customers all the time. The free parking out front is a huge bonus too.”
Stubbe continues to offer the same products as in the past, but has also increased its list of cakes and is now preparing them in two sizes, based on feedback Heinrich heard while holding “office hours” on the sidewalk bench near his new store during construction and fit-up throughout the summer and early autumn. “Many people told me that their families are smaller, so in response we are now offering cakes to serve either 6 or 10 people.”
Heinrich notes that one message he has heard often over the years is that people appreciate being able to purchase products that are made on site. “At Stubbe Chocolates we only sell what we create so we are happy to tell you exactly what is in any product and how it was made and where the raw materials were sourced,” he says.
While other chocolatiers in Kitchissippi have come and gone, Heinrich notes that he is definitely still in it for the long haul, as are his children. “That’s why I put our family name on the store all those years ago. I am still as passionate about this business as I was in the beginning and I keep innovating so that the work remains fun and interesting for me. Our chocolate-covered cocoa beans and nibs are examples of new products that sparked my curiosity and have proven to be runaway favourites.”
He is quick to praise his dedicated and talented staff, without whom the business could not enjoy such long-term success. Although Heinrich no longer teaches at Le Cordon Bleu, he still participates in judging students’ final exams, which affords him access to a well-trained pool of candidates for openings in his kitchen. “I let students know when I am looking for employees and many end up being a very good fit. I encourage them to wear a friendship pin from their own country and we often have the ability to serve customers in as many as eight different languages. It’s like a mini United Nations in here, under German leadership, of course,” he jokes.
As he ramps up for the busy holiday season, Heinrich expresses his gratitude to everyone who has proven the move was a good one. “I didn’t know this area well at all so it has been wonderful to explore and discover all it has to offer,” adds Heinrich. “This community is a perfect fit for our business. People are so happy we are here and since we opened on October 31st it has been extremely busy.”
How busy? Heinrich confides that sales are up 50 percent from the same period last year. In the past, he has estimated that his shop goes through six tons of chocolate per year, producing, among other things, 160,000 hand-made truffles in more than three dozen different flavours. He may need to revise those numbers next year thanks to the warm welcome Stubbe Chocolates – the Ottawa area’s oldest family owned and operated business – is receiving in Wellington West.