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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Cooking up small biz success

By Roger Pierce

While the rest of us were told by Mom not to play with our food, it's all right for entrepreneur Mandy Kan. "I have a strong passion for food and love to experiment with it," she says.
Yorkville Pastry Chef Mandy Kan says it's all about "location, location, location" when opening a retail operation.

Kan just opened her own shop called Dessert Lady Cafe ( located at 20 Cumberland St. in the heart of Yorkville. It's a retail gourmet pastry shop that offers custom orders and plated "desserts-to-go" made from scratch. Kan says her specialties are mouth-watering souffle, liquid-centre warm chocolate cake and homemade ice cream.

Kan has played with her food for a long time. "I started getting involved in the pastry business five years ago," Kan says. "I obtained my training in New York City at the French Culinary Institution, and completed my chocolate and sugar work training at the

International School of Confectionary Arts in Maryland." Kan also performed her pastry magic as a Chef at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Florida.

Kan says she's always dreamed of opening a pastry shop and recognized a good opportunity. "There simply aren't enough places to buy high quality desserts in this city," she explains.

Know the neighbourhood

She set out to find a perfect location for her new business. "You've really got to do your homework," she advises. "Get to know the neighbourhood through market research to make sure the right customers live or work there," she recommends.

Kan chose Yorkville because it attracts customers who can appreciate -- and afford -- her sumptuous wares.

"To me, fine desserts are a combination of art and taste -- beyond everyday pies and cookies -- that require a lot of thought and creativity," she says. "People in this neighbourhood love fine desserts and know how to pamper themselves."

Her future plans include cooking classes for dessert lovers and opening a second location with more seating.

-- Entrepreneurship expert Roger Pierce trains people on how to start a small business in the Up & Running Biz Launch Program.

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