Taste promises sweet success

Published 1:23 am Monday, May 16, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - It is said that each of us is made up of our past, our present, and even our future.
Godfrey Govere (pronounced Go-vair-ay) has opened a pastry shop in downtown Niles that combines his past experience as a baker's assistant to internationally-known baker, Tim Foley. His present venture is called the Pastry Center and he has high hopes for the future success of the fledgling business, with Foley's help. The new pastry shop is located at 115 N. 3rd St. in downtown Niles and celebrated its grand opening with an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning.
Judging by the line of customers that filled the store Friday morning, the future of the pastry shop looks very rosey.
The ribbon cutting drew members of the Niles Chamber of Commerce who took turns greeting Govere as representatives of the Niles community. All were supportive and enthusiastic in welcoming the Pastry Center to the expanding list of new downtown merchants.
According to Mayor Mike McCauslin, "Every other week the Chamber does another opening ceremony for a new business, but there must be something special about a bakery. That's why so many people are here today."
Govere expressed his gratitude to the Commerce members attending the ceremony. "I am pleased to meet and see each one of you in person," he said. "This marks the realization of a dream and I am ready to take on this endeavor."
He also thanked Foley for contributing to his success, saying, "Tim has the true spirit of entrepeneurism. I wish one day to be the same as Tim."
The plus for Govere's business is the natural approach used throughout the entire baking process. The Pastry Center sells only "artisan" baked goods. According to Foley, it means that the focus is not so much on the flavors that can be added to products, like breads that contain herbs or sun-dried tomatoes for instance, but on the natural flavors of the good, quality whole grains and other components that are at the heart of the product. In other words, the delicious taste and aroma come from the beginning ingredients, not just the add-ons.
Combined with the use of all-natural ingredients, the quality is noticeably different in the products and is a healthier approach to pleasing our pastry palates.
Customers on Friday seemed to agree. By 10 a.m., a good share of the baked goods had already sold out and the patrons were happily munching on chocolate croissants, almond horns, cookies, and fresh loaves of bread. There was also a decorated cake from Bit of Swiss that had a filling of Bavarian Cream, a house specialty for the Stevensville bakery. Of course, when eating such delicacies, a cup of coffee becomes an important accompaniment, and the Pastry Center offers a special blend that can't be purchased anywhere else. Made from three kinds of coffee beans (Viennese which has a lighter body, Black Cat which is more robust, and a blend that Bit of Swiss created from both Sumatra and Guatemalan beans), the coffee was a big hit with the patrons.
Doug Law, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, said as he tasted the brew, "It's strong and it's good." The beans for the coffee are roasted fresh daily to produce the best flavor possible according to Govere.
Govere is originally from Johannesburg in South Africa. He came to the U.S. starting out in New York, then moving to Buchanan where a friend lived. Although he knew nothing about the baking industry, he signed on at Foley's "Bit of Swiss Bakery" in Stevensville as a baker's assistant. Once he got used to the pace, Govere began to take pride in helping to produce the quality breads and pastries for which Bit of Swiss is known.
And there is obviously a mutual respect between Govere and his former boss, Foley.
Foley, who returned from France about two weeks ago, was part of a team of bakers who entered an international competition, representing the United States against bakers from 11 other countries. The team of three bakers, one coach, and a manager, prepared over 300 breads and pastries with an eight hour period to take the coveted first place prize, a bronzed loaf of bread weighing nearly 80 pounds.
Foley, a native of Duluth, Minn., was the manager for the team which consisted of William Leaman of Seattle who was assigned the showcase piece for the judging, Jory Downer a baker from Evanston, Ill., and Jeff Yankellow, an instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute in California, who were in charge of breakfast pastries and artisan breads. Didier Rosada was the coach.
Foley said, "Our goal is to promote artisan baking, not so much to win a prize." According to Foley, the whole point of the competition was both to represent the unique identity of American baking to the world market, and to make the world aware of the wholesome qualities found in artisan baking.
Govere said, "People like natural products. They appreciate the quality and variety they've been encountering in our bakery. They're looking for the alternatives that we provide," he said. Govere passed out a fresh loaf of artisan bread to each customer to honor the grand opening of his shop. There were a lot of smiles as they tucked the bread under their arms and headed out the door.
After purchasing several baked goods, Meg Evick, a local resident, summed it all up when she said to Govere, "Thanks so much. We really need you here in Niles."
According to the crowded shop and happy customers, that must be true.
Oh, and a bit of advice. Come early while the coffee is hot and the pastries are still there.