We’ve had such an AMAZING response to the Cupcake Challenge and we’re really looking forward to seeing and of course TASTING all your creations!
For those of you that haven’t signed up for a chance to have your cupcake named Ottawa’s best vegan cupcake, please click here
We kick off the Meet Our Judges series with none other than Ottawa’s own queen of vegan cupcakes….Auntie Loo!
Auntie Loo’s is a small vegan bakery here in Ottawa. Ms. Loo learned to cook at the knees of her family members, and the majority of what she produces are these very recipes- veganized! Auntie Loo firmly believes that if you want a dessert, it had better taste like one. Auntie Loo’s uses organic products whenever possible, and works with and purchases from small local businesses.
Most people want to know the story, so here it is: Put up to having a vegan treat table at the 2004 Ladyfest Ottawa Craft Sale by her sweet-toothed roommates, Ms. Loo had never even considered baking as a career. Overwhelmed by the response, Auntie Loo’s was born.
Nowadays, Auntie Loo’s Treats can be found in several locations around Ottawa, including her storefront at 507 Bronson Avenue.
NCVA membership just got sweeter, when Ottawa’s beloved Auntie Loo announced that she wanted to show NCVA members some love with a 10 per cent discount. The discount applies to anything purchased at her store front (507 Bronson Avenue) or ordered, except for wedding cakes.
Auntie Loo is a great example of a home-grown, vegan business. She even recently won “Best Bakery” recognition in Capital XPress, as voted by readers. Here’s a story we published about her in our most recent newsletter, Capital Veg News:
Made locally, with love, at Auntie Loos
By Pamela Eadie
There’s nothing quite like fresh, made with love baked goods. And nobody knows that better than Amanda Lunan, more commonly known as Ottawa’s “Auntie Loo.”
While her baked goods have been available at Ottawa area natural food stores for several years now, Auntie Loo opened her storefront one year ago, much to the delight of vegans and cupcake enthusiasts. It was the culmination of many years of hard work and perseverance.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was in a band and working at a coffee shop. I would make these cakes for my friends, and someone told me I could make a lot of money selling them,” Auntie Loo explains.
“But I figured nobody would want my crappy cake.”
Was she ever wrong. The same friend talked her into selling her creations at a Ladyfest Craft sale in 2004. She was a hit. Inspired, she completed a small business diploma program at Algonquin College, and joined the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, which gives young people a salary while they get their business started.
She baked her heart out while renting space at a bakery that was closed overnight. Fellow vegan baking aficionado, Brad Campeau of B.Goods cookies, mentored her. She built a loyal following through LadyFest and other events, and by having her goods in health food stores.
But then the Youth Entrepreneurship Program ran out, and she was at a crossroads. “It was do or die,” she says. With help from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, she was able to find and rent her own retail location, on Bronson Avenue.
She’s also expanded her wedding cake business, with help from her “right hand man” Kate Veinot. Auntie Loos currently has two part time employees, and two volunteer pastry students from Algonquin College.
Her repertoire of treats is constantly changing with the seasons, but the one constant is that they’re always vegan. There are also soy-free and gluten-free options. Treats include a wide variety of cupcakes, squares, pastries, brownies, and cakes. She caters special events and welcomes special orders.
“I never expected a response from the community like this. It’s been awesome,” Auntie Loo says. “People like to come in and see where the food is coming from. It’s important to me to be really transparent.” Auntie Loos uses organic products whenever possible, and works with and purchases from small local businesses.
Most of her clients are not vegan, but, “when they’re buying a cupcake from me, they’re not buying one that has animal products. Most people who come in don’t care. They just like that it tastes good.”
Her love of animals has inspired her along the way. “I really love animals. The reason I went vegetarian was because a cow truck passed me on the highway when I was five years old. That’s when I realized how meat was made,” she says. She’s been vegan for more than 10 years.
These days, she’s at the forefront of Ottawa’s burgeoning vegan community. “It’s my contribution,” she says. “I just think it’s important that people make informed choices.”