The Queena of tarts
For Queena Cannonier, a passion for pastry arose out of a need to cook something new.
“I was in the kitchen one afternoon and I had this brilliant idea to make something different for the children's lunch,” she said.
So she turned to her mother, Sheila Reid, owner of Reid's Restaurant, known for its savoury pies.
“So I called my mother and asked if she could pass along a short version of her pastry which she has been making for over 28 years,” she said. “Her response? ‘A little bit of this and a little bit of that!'”
From what her mother shared, Mrs Cannonier learnt to make pastry.
“It took years to get to where she was and to make it almost organically still keeping the same great taste,” said Mrs Cannonier.
She changed her mother's ingredients to organic ones, and reduced the fat content. “Everyone's watching their weight these days,” Mrs Cannonier said.
She clearly remembers the day her mother came by to taste her work for the first time.
“That day I think I paced the kitchen floor before she came,” said Mrs Cannonier. “It was a big deal. My mother knew her pastry. So I just stood there as she first tasted the pastry then bit into all three levels — topping, filling and pastry. She made me wait and then said, ‘Queena this is better than mine'. That was a big deal coming from a woman who used no machines for over 40 years. Even when technology was available, she still made her pastry by hand.”
Mrs Cannonier said when her mother ran her store she treated everyone equally.
“She would often have both UBP and PLP friends in the shop together and to watch them get along and share their differences was incredible,” said Mrs Cannonier. “In fact, it was awesome. They were her friends, from parliamentarians (UBP and PLP), to beggars.” Mrs Cannonier's interest in baking waned after her mother died in 2012. Mrs Cannonier devoted most of her energy to home schooling her children, Aspiro, 16, Shalom-Yasha, 14 and Ashrey, 11.
Mrs Cannonier would often donate her pastries to several functions and charities. This year, she decided to make a switch. With help from the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation she is in the process of opening a business, Pastel & Pastry. She now sells the savoury pies and sweet tarts she makes in her home kitchen under the moniker, The Pastry Girl.
Organic food business Bermy Fresh, is one of her customers; residents are slowly catching on.
“One of my biggest struggles is timidity,” she said. “I volunteered and served in a ministry for seven years, then dedicated my time to looking after my mother and father when they took sick. First my mother for almost two years. When she passed away my father took ill and for two more years my family and I worked together to care for him. It was not until the death of my father I started contributing more of my time and talent in baking and donating my goods to various events and charities.”
“It's been very difficult to switch over and say I have to take money. But my friends would say, you just have to get out there. Everything tastes great.
“Some of my orders are very small. People will call and ask for a couple of pies. I have also done large events. I have baked 300 tarts for sporting events, private functions and people's personal functions.
“I baked for a big party in the St George's town square for Ismay Steede Anderson who turned 100 in January. Everything went really well.”
The coaching she is receiving from the BEDC is helping.
“They help you decide if you are making the right decision going into business,” she said. “I have been working with Roxanne Christopher through that and she is phenomenal. They are making sure I have the right business structure in place.”
Her daughter Aspiro enjoys helping her in the kitchen, and dreams of becoming a lawyer and a paediatrician.
Aspiro, has her own organisation Sanctuary of God's Love and raises money for charities such as Sandys Middle School and the Packwood Home.
“Aspiro has been saving and donating her funds on her own up to now, with what sales we make to give to charity.”
Mrs Cannonier is now looking for a storefront of her own.
“I will be selling savoury pies, sweet tarts and cakes,” she said. “On the hot pies I will be putting an emblem that will remind people that the hot pies are in honour of my mother.”
Visit www.pnpbda.com or call 232-9590.
*This story has been updated to reflect inaccuracies in the original article in Friday's Lifestyle.