The first time I stepped into Fife Bakery in Olympic Village, there wasn’t any bread.
This wasn’t because someone didn’t show up for work, in fact, owner and baker Felix Yau had been there to start his 13-hour day at 5 am as usual. But on this particular morning, Yau had added too much salt to his dough, and he wasn’t about to send his customers home with subpar loaves.
Not one to let his customers walk away empty handed, Yau offered free coffee all day, and whipped up his daily batch of chocolate chip cookies. The baker said everyone was understanding and they had told him they’d be back for more bread.
I too, returned for bread. It was definitely worth the trip.
The artisan bakery may be small – we’re talking 500 square feet including the bathroom – but the product that comes out of its oven has flavour and quality that is tremendous.
Yau makes naturally leavened breads out of organic and local ingredients including flour from Chilliwack, milk from Abbotsford, and eggs from Langley. The trick to making his sourdough loaves lies in a culinary science: a long fermentation process, and a perfectly-balanced dough mixture.
Currently Fife offers a handful of baked goods including brioche loaves, sourdough loaves, and chocolate chip cookies. Yau says he intends to keep the selection small, and there’s a reason.
“I’d rather focus on making one thing really great than make a bunch of things that are mediocre,” says Yau.
Emphasizing the importance of sourcing primarily local, and no-matter-what Canadian ingredients in his baking, it was natural for Yau to name the bakery after Red Fife, a bread wheat native to Peterborough, Ontario. Currently over 95% of Fife’s ingredients are sourced from the lower mainland.
Making anywhere from 50 to 60 loaves a day, Yau has been selling out since opening at the end of December, and he is excited to meet more customers as word spreads about the bakery.
“I love meeting people, right now I’m the only one here so I get to greet everyone who walks through the door, it’s great,” says Yau.
The space itself is bright and comfortable. With four stools and a narrow counter for a coffee/cookie meetings and reunions, Fife is a true neighbourhood gem that is sure to grow a devoted following of bread lovers in Vancouver as time goes on.
Fife Bakery is open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 6 pm.
Address: 64 East 3rd Avenue, Vancouver