Ben and Anna Van Eck have recently moved their adorably-named BeNanna Bakery to a quaint brick building on Alexander Avenue.
Ben baked his way through pastry school in Europe prior to moving to Chilliwack, where he met his wife, Anna.
The newlyweds opened up their first bakery on Yale Road in ’96. Ben did most of the baking, while Anna – a farm girl at heart – processed orders and gradually learned the delicate art of pastry decorating.
When life took a turn four years into the business, Ben and Anna left the baking game. But their passion was rekindled 10 years later when they were asked to make treats for a school fundraiser.
“We baked all night,” Ben recalled. The following morning, Anna drove a van-load of pastries to the school while Ben waited anxiously at home.
“She phoned me an hour later to tell me we sold out!”
Realizing that there was a market for their products, they decided to take baking seriously once more.
They revamped their recipe books and re-built their customer base by operating out of their home. They would take orders throughout the week and have “open houses” on Saturdays, where customers could pick out a dozen cream-puffs, eclairs, tortes and more from the pastry cases in their converted living room.
But when Ben heard of a little open space next to a butcher and produce store, it was a fit too perfect to pass up. On August 29, BeNanna Bakery moved in to 47533 Alexander Ave.
Now with commercial size equipment and a small staff, BeNanna Bakery is able to take on larger orders and additional products, like artisan breads.
According to Anna, those breads “have always been his dream,” and his favourite indulgence.
Ben makes the distinctive bread the old-fashioned way, with just flour, water and salt, slow-baked for 36 hours. “This is definitely something you can’t buy in the supermarket,” Ben said. By customer request, he also sells the starter (‘mother dough’) in the bakery.
BeNanna does its best to source ingredients locally, with savoury sausage-roll meat from their neighbours and fresh strawberries from nearby farms in the summer. Most importantly, family values are always top of mind.
Though they occasionally step on each others toes, Ben and Anna don’t mind the close quarters too much.
“We’re always together,” said Anna, as customers filtered in following the scent of fresh-baked goodies.
“Our kids came up with the name,” Ben said, pointing to their logo. “Ben and Anna. No one else will ever come between that.”
Learn more at benannabakery.com.