Giselle Courteau explores her French Canadian roots through baking with Duchess at Home
This interview originally aired on Dec. 7, 2019.
Giselle Courteau is the founder of the Duchess Bake Shop, an Edmonton staple known for its delicate French pastries.
Her latest cookbook, Duchess at Home, is inspired by her French Canadian heritage. It includes recipes for soups, stews and desserts like tarte aux fraises.
"From the time I was really young, I would wake up in the morning and the only thing that I could think about was, 'How can I put sugar into my mouth today?' My mom was a supermom. She made everything from scratch. She didn't have a lot of time, as a working mom, but baked when she could.
Baking is about learning — and if you're a baker that means you're a lifelong learner.- Giselle Courteau
"She pushed that onto me, and as I started growing up I would bake myself. At the beginning, I would bake to feed my insatiable sweet tooth.
"Over time, I actually really grew to love the process. Baking is about learning — and if you're a baker that means you're a lifelong learner. I really grew to love that aspect about baking."
A baking love affair
"We opened the bakery 10 years ago. It's been a wild 10 years. For the first few years of the bakery being open, I was working seven days a week, 20 hours a day. Then I had two children. Everything changes when you have kids.
About three or four years ago, I went back into my home kitchen and just totally fell in love with it again.- Giselle Courteau
"We had to take a step back from the business and start to focus a little bit more on being at home and spending more time with our kids.
"About three or four years ago, I went back into my home kitchen and just totally fell in love with it again."
Enjoying the process
"Duchess at Home was so exciting for me to be able to write. It was also very emotional because this is me falling in love with my kitchen again and falling in love with my family recipes. The book really represents me as a whole.
"It's all about enjoying the process and the act of being in the kitchen. It's about making things for the people you love and for your family and friends.
"There's nothing more rewarding than making something from scratch for somebody else — no matter if it turns out perfect or not in the end."
Giselle Courteau's comments have been edited for length and clarity.