You might say Michael Sunderland is living the sweet life. The owner of his own preserves, syrups and sauces company, Michael’s Dolce, Sunderland spends each day doing what he loves. Located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Sunderland has been making gourmet products under Michael’s Dolce for more than a decade. Sunderland explains how he went from renting a kitchen to owning his own commercial space.
What inspired you to get into foodservice?
“My foodservice experience began in college, with Culinary 101: basic understanding of cooking techniques, menu building, terms of culinary and kitchen skills. This led me to my first cooking job in an Italian restaurant where I started as a prep cook and eventually took over making desserts. The dessert menu was named “Dolce”; that later would become part of my business name, Michael’s Dolce.
I was working for a local bakery and had a steady supply of bread. With the price of gourmet preserves mostly imported, I wanted to make something myself. I began buying fruits and cooking jam at home. When I brought some to the bakery I worked in, the owner was impressed and asked if I would sell the jams in his shop. That was the start of my business.”
What do you love about your business?
“Making food with great ingredients and working with people who love food and the culture around it. I sell wholesale to a variety of food shops in Ontario and Quebec and an online shop from my website.
Pizza is made by me and sold on Friday from my commercial kitchen. The menu changes weekly and orders are currently made through direct message in my Instagram business page. Pizza Friday began when I was no longer selling my preserves at farmers market. I decided to sell pizza since I had a background with baking and also enjoy making and eating pizza.”
What’s the most interesting thing to happen to your business?
“A beer collaboration happened when I started chatting with the staff at Beyond the Pale, a craft brew shop. I told them I was making ginger syrup, they perked up and invited a beer maker over to the counter. He asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a beer and was thinking ginger would make a great addition to the flavor. That became Dolce & Ginger beer, a limited run craft brew.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
“I had a variety of challenges, from building cash flow to sourcing ingredients from farmers. When I moved into a rental kitchen, I spent too much on overhead and was lacking income to support that, so I had to learn and be smart about money. That is my big lesson! Fast forward to the present, I purchased a commercial kitchen where I can produce all my products.
COVID-19 actually hasn’t impacted my business in a bad way. Online sales are more active, and pizza pick up on Friday has been steady.”
Which Cambro products help make your business work?
“Cambro plays a big part of my business, in that all measurement and weight of ingredients are in a Cambro product. From stacking, design and durability, Cambro products have worked extremely well for me. I like the fact that I haven’t used plastic wrap for covers because all my storage containers have lids, making them environmentally friendly and cost effective.”
Links for Michael’s Dolce
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AT CAMBRO.