By Megan Harman
Niche Toronto-based bakery chain Sorelle & Co. is continuing to grow—just two years after making its debut—with a new location that opened in Etobicoke last week.
The bakery and cafe chain, which now operates four locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area, specializes in gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, nut-free and preservative-free baked goods—with an elegant twist. The cafes are designed to be beautiful, sophisticated spaces—reminiscent of high-end tearooms—and the baked goods themselves are colourful and artistic.
“It’s a unique approach to food, where we mix refined elegance with healthy organic ingredients,” says Jean-Charles Dupoire, culinary director at Sorelle & Co.
Although the chain’s target market includes customers with allergies and dietary restrictions, Dupoire says Sorelle’s offerings appeal to everyone.
“Taste and texture is not compromised,” he says. “It is not only geared to people with allergies or Celiac, but for all to indulge on desserts that contain quality ingredients.”
Sorelle opened its original location—the flagship—in mid-2016 in Vaughan. It was founded by a mother of five daughters, all of who suffered from various food allergies, such as gluten, dairy, egg, soy and nuts. Having had trouble finding restaurants and bakeries that were free of all of those ingredients, she decided to launch Sorelle as a destination for people struggling with similar allergies and food sensitivities.
Since day one, it’s been clear that there’s a significant market for allergen-free foods, Dupoire says.
“We wish there where more places for people to go to feel safe, hence why we have opened four locations in two years,” says Dupoire.
Sorelle offers both sweet and savoury items, and offers high tea service. The chain also makes custom cakes to order. Some of the most popular items include brownies, donuts, cookies and pies.
Following the launch of its Vaughan flagship, Sorelle opened a concession in the Pusateri’s Food Hall at Saks Fifth Avenue in downtown Toronto, followed by a location at the base of the former Four Seasons Hotel on Avenue Road in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.
“Yorkville to us was the perfect location to feature our brand, not to mention satisfy the downtown customers,” says Dupoire.
The newest bakery is located on The Queensway between Islington Avenue and Kipling Avenue – a high traffic retail area in Etobicoke, at the base of a condo building.
The standalone locations range in size from 1,300 to 2,700 square feet, with between 20 and 42 seats for customers. They’re designed to be bright and spacious, dominated by shades of white and gold, with floor-to-ceiling windows, elaborate chandeliers and classic floral arrangements.
“The inspiration behind the design was to create a special place that people could get the feeling they are celebrating,” says Dupoire.
In addition to its own locations, Sorelle is exploring distribution partnerships with various hotels, grocery stores and catering ventures.
“Most kitchens in banquet halls, hotels and grocery stores are unable to produce pastries and desserts that are allergy friendly or celiac friendly because they don’t have a space that is contained to avoid contamination to guarantee customers’ safety,” Dupoire says. “This is why we are receiving so much interest—our kitchen is 100% free from all of these ingredients.