Toronto culinary grad finds future in the North

Melissa Davis found that working over a hot oven felt best an Arctic kitchen. (PESCOD_DAVIS_PICE)

Since she was a little girl, Melissa Davis has always had a passion for baking. When she turned her passion into a career, she had no idea where it would take her.

“When I was young I loved to decorate cakes,” she said. “I wanted to become a pastry chef.”

Approximately 2,335 kilometres from Toronto is the city of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut and home to more than 7,000 people. That’s where Melissa Davis works 10 hours a day as a bakery supervisor for Tim Hortons.

While attending George Brown College’s two-year baking and pastry arts program, Davis lived in the Greenwood and Danforth area of Toronto; she graduated last year. She applied for a baker’s position with the North West Company and was offered a position in Fort Albany, Ont., but Davis wanted a truly unique experience and requested to work in the Arctic.

“After telling the company that, they offered me a spot in Iqaluit,” she said.

Davis worked for Northmart bakery in Iqaluit, but when the North West Company decided to open three small Tim Hortons franchises in the city, the company asked Davis if she wanted to take on supervisory duties.

Davis starts work at 5 a.m. and bakes the donuts and muffins that are to be delivered to the other Tim Hortons later in day.

In addition, she helps to manage her Tim’s outlet and drives to the two other stores to check them as well.

“Some days I get off at 2:30 or 3, but some days are much longer,” Davis said. “It’s a long and tiring day, but I really enjoy it.”

Katie Inukshuk manages the Nunavut Tim Hortons and is grateful to have such a committed employee.

“The bakery here in Iqaluit is her baby and her dedication and commitment to the success of this project always shows,” Inukshuk said.

Davis said that Tim Hortons has strong community involvement in Nunavut and hopes to bring Timbits soccer and hockey to Iqaluit. She said the work and experience in the North are unique.

“The experience has truly been life altering,” she said.