Pat McKenna takes a cook’s tour of famous, infamous and soon-to-be-famous Yukon chefs.
With dancing, folk singing and lots of great music entertainment, the Village Bakery in Haines Junction pumps out a wide variety of products to a decidedly Northern beat.
Owner-operator Boyd Campbell, in his twentieth year of running the bakery, says that, while well-supported by locals, it is the tourists and Whitehorse crowd travelling in the area who keep things hopping between May and September.
Overlooking the spectacular St. Elias Mountains, the Village Bakery is located across from the Kluane Park Interpretive Centre on Auriol Street in Haines Junction.
The baking is varied and fresh due to the energetic and fun team of Jodi Trapp and Dave Thompson.
They work the night shift from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. and produce herb and cheese breads, rustic sourdough pizza, ever-popular cinnamon buns, cherry-chocolate croissants and a multitude of pastries, cookies, pies, squares and tarts – all under the Midnight Sun.
In the daytime, they hike and think up new variations on their recipes.
In the back of the building is a wonderful gentleman, Frank Alge – also known as “Mr. Fish Hook”.
He runs a state-of-the-art smoking operation producing smoked salmon and fresh lox. Strict, by-the-book-training in his Swiss homeland taught Alge to prepare salmon by hand, using a piquant cardamom and coarse-salt dry rub with brown sugar added toward the end of the treatment.
The fish is then smoked over his special blend of apple and cherry wood. The flavourful result is sold in the bakery as gourmet deli sandwiches and fillets to local customers as well as those from faraway European countries.
Alge also dabbles in the production of caviar from Dalton Post salmon. While the caviar is not sold, it is prepared for the fisher folk, with rave reviews.
He is also responsible for a Friday-night barbecue very popular with locals and tourists, alike. He prepares King salmon with a concoction of dill, parsley, garlic and his own secret herbs.
Applying the dry rub to the salmon, just minutes before it hits the hot coals, is his tip for a moist product.
Boyd’s band provides the live soundtrack while you chow down on the salmon.
Behind the barbecue accompaniments of salads, roasted vegetables and fresh sourdough garlic bread, is yet another Village Bakery chef, Astrid Semmel.
Semmel aims to use the freshest ingredients possible and relies on her German heritage in choosing herbs and spices to complement a wide selection of savoury dishes. The results are superb.
In this magnificent mountain setting, you may rub elbows with world-class mountaineers while you sip your early-morning coffee. You may find a few of the village canines and ravens squawking on the deck waiting for a treat. You may also be able to listen to some Johnny Cash from a strumming mountain minstrel.
Add a stop at the Haines Junction Village Bakery on your next journey to the coastal mountains and enjoy their tasteful service alongside the breathtaking view.