Too bad sainthood is not conferred on bakers

One fixture no city neighborhood should be without: a remarkable bakery such as Christies Il Secondo. If you’re fortunate enough to live around Broadway area in Saskatoon, then you’re familiar with the unrivaled pleasures this local gem has been offering to its residents since the past fall. Whether you live there, or anywhere else in town, it’s well worth the trip by Il Secondo.

Pictures by RealView | Christies Il Secondo, 802C Broadway Ave., Tel.: 384-0506

Earlier today I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with one of the owners, Blair Muzzolini, and he graciously agreed to conduct a quick interview for

Jenan: What are the best things about being a baker?
Blair: Where do I begin? First, being able to produce a bread or pastry that customers enjoy and will come back for week after week is very gratifying. And there is also something artistic about it. Not to sound highbrow or anything, but being able to produce a great loaf of bread has an artistic side to it. It’s very rewarding.

You know, for many years I did not think that this would be my calling. Christies is a family buisiness with a very long tradition. The business has been around since 1932. So, for me, the bakery was more like a sibling than just a business. When I was younger I helped out whenever I had to, but it was not until I was in my early 20s that I really felt a great deal of passion for it.

Jenan: Your new location on Broadway Avenue is the first branch of the original Christies bakery. Can you tell us a little bit about how this second location came into an existence?
Blair: Sure. The passion and the driving force behind this new bakery is the product of my sister’s (Tracey) and mine desire to put our own stamp, if you will, on the family business. Even the name is symbolic, Christies Il Secondo—in Italian the second one. With it we wanted to: a. honour the original bakery; b. to also acknowledge the fact that the second bakery is the product of the second generation of Muzzolini bakers. (Blair and Tracy took over the business from their parents a few years ago.)

Jenan: In spreading the word about the new bakery around the town, what has been your most effective marketing?
Blair: We invested very, very little in advertising. We depend almost exclusively on word of mouth marketing. It helps a lot that the original Christies has a great reputation in the community.

Jenan: Great reputation fuels word of mouth marketing. I always tell people: The best promoter of your business is your customer. If you take care of that person, if you delight that person, he’ll walk right out of the door and campaign for you.
Blair: I agree. Another thing that we take time to do is to educate our customers. We tell them about the ingredients we use; the reasons why we practice “less is more” philosophy when it comes to making traditional Italian pizza, etc. People really enjoy it—it feels a little bit like going behind the scene of a great theatre production.

Jenan: I bet—thank you Blair and all the best until next time!
May 18, 2011

P.S. Be warned: with bread and pizza this good, a weekly pilgrimage to Il Secondo may become your new personal tradition :-).