BY RICHARD MOOREY
THERE ARE some truly amazing bakeries here in Thunder Bay. Great people who make products that not only feed and nourish but tease our taste buds, make our mouths happy and make our meals whole with delicious breads and desserts. So many of these are truly local, family owned and have been around for decades employing generations. Some of these are truly cornerstones of our community sharing not only food and culture but a sense of extended family.
Roma Bakery has been one of these Thunder Bay institutions since 1962. Built on family, culture, local ingredients and great baking, Roma Bakery is a familiar name in the culinary community. Domenic Pedulla started the bakery in November of that year a little more than a decade after immigrating to Canada with his family from Siderno, Italy. After decades of growing the bakery with his wife and his children and making it an authentic Italian family bakery, his two sons Frank and Joe took over operations and continued on in their father’s footsteps.
This week sadly, the culinary community has lost a bakery icon, Frank Pedulla of Roma Bakery has passed away and he truly will be missed. Frank was a true friend and family man, a dedicated baker, an entrepreneur and he had a heart of gold which was often seen through his philanthropic philosophy.
Frank and his family not only make delicious breads and bakery products but as so often seen have helped countless causes with their time and generous donations. Very often you would catch Frank giving something to those less fortunate or helping a family in their time of need. He always did so quietly, never looking for accolades it was always just for the satisfaction of helping his neighbour.
Always there to listen Frank was like a great barber or bartender. He would take the time to chat and provide his outlook and share some life experiences that might help when you were in a bind or just looking for a sounding board for new ideas. Of course he was also the perfect person to have taste that recipe you were working on and would always give you a straight and honest appraisal of that new sauce or dish you were in the midst of perfecting. This baker though was as tough and stubborn as they come and although he was uplifting for so many he would never burden you with his troubles and rarely would ask for help. He was strong and proud and you might find yourself trying to be as stubborn as he was while you insisted he accept some help from time to time.
Anyone who knew Frank will not only remember a skilled baker and businessman but a warm and smiling individual that always had a hug or a handshake for you and someone who always made time to see how you were doing and to share some stories or a humorous anecdotes. Combining his Italian heritage with his profession Frank not only shared himself with you but often shared himself through his food. Running into Frank on an average day was never easy on your waistline. He was always insistent on sharing the food that he made or even introducing you to other people’s food as he loved to help local businesses network with one another.
Frank will most certainly be remembered fondly by a great many people and for a very long time to come. In the chef’s world there aren’t too many of us that weren’t influenced positively by Frank in some way, shape or form. When you share yourself through your food like Frank, you’re sharing a part of yourself. It’s inevitable that such an amazing man and the flavours that he shared to make people smile or enjoy a meal just a little more will be something that keeps people reminiscing about Frank every time they bite into something that came out of Roma’s ovens.
Chef House Sweet Rolls
Frank helped me tweak this recipe and as simple as it is, it’s just another way I’ll remember Frank.
2 envelopes yeast
4 cups white bread flour, plus extra as needed
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1Ú2 cup boiling water
1Ú4 cup soft butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
In a small bowl, mix milk with water. Add sugar, yeast, and butter. Stir until yeast is dissolved and set aside until yeast begins to foam.
In a large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add more flour a little at a time if the dough is too wet.
Add yeast mixture and olive oil to flour and combine and knead until smooth and elastic.
Place in greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place. Punch the dough down, oil your hands and shape the dough into rolls and place in a well-greased pan.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again.
Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to firstname.lastname@example.org, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.