THUNDER BAY -- Zelia Widla has been decorating cakes for 33 years as manager and cake decorator at Dagwood’s Bakery and Deli in Westfort. Dagwood’s specializes in wedding cakes and birthday cakes, as well as small pastries and baked goods such as eclairs, cupcakes and cookies. They also cater to the lunch crowd with subs made with bread from Five Star Bakery.
Dagwood’s is owned by the same family that owns Five Star Bakery, and most members of the family work at these bakeries. Zelia’s daughter Olivia currently works at Dagwood’s, where she assists Zelia.
“We take cakes to a whole different level,” says Olivia with pride. “We do fondant, we do 3D cakes. What inspires me the most is that I want to make a really good cake, so that I can see the expression on the person’s face when I present it to them.”
“We have edible fabric, edible lace,” Zelia adds. Sometimes clients come in with a photo of the cake they want, but a lot of times, she sits down with them to figure out what they want. While they can’t make a single custom cupcake, there is no strict minimum quantity or price.
“We want everyone to have that special memory and moment,” says Olivia.
The mother and daughter duo often check out Pinterest to see what the latest trends are. Cupcakes are still popular and decorated doughnuts are big now, but next year it could be something different. Lately, more couples opt for a small wedding cake with additional cupcakes, doughnuts or fancy pastries for the guests, instead of having a multi-tiered cake for everyone.
Since Dagwood’s opened its doors on Brock street in 1987, many of the children who used to come to the bakery have grown up and started families themselves. Bakeries have come and gone, but Zelia and her family are still there. “It’s a lot of hard work. A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of long days,” she says of her continued success as a cake artist.
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