Posted on 24 October 2012 by Keith Lacey
Canada’s queen of culinary concoctions paid a visit to Osoyoos Monday afternoon to the delight of many of her fans on television and in print.
The well-known host of the Food Network’s prime time program Bake and author of the best-selling book Back to Baking paid a visit to the Osoyoos Home Hardware after accepting an invitation from store owner Frances Sologuk and her husband Larry.
Frances had met Anna Olson at Home Hardware’s national office in St. Jacob’s, Ontario several months ago while attending a workshop and she invited her to come to Osoyoos should she ever be in the Okanagan Valley.
Olson was in Kelowna for a private business function this week and made time to visit Sologuk’s store Monday afternoon, where she greeted fans, signed autographs of her latest book and participated in a baking demonstration later in the evening.
Several dozen people lined up to meet Olson during a one-hour book signing session in the afternoon and more than 60 attended the evening baking demonstration, which was excellent, said Sologuk.
Olson, who lives in the Ontario city of Welland, has now written seven books, including several with her husband Michael, about cooking, baking and culinary delights.
She was hired by Home Hardware as their official “kitchen expert” several months ago and seemed genuinely pleased with the concept of meeting fans and sharing her secrets to success in the kitchen and in business.
“This is actually my first Home Hardware store demonstration event and I’m really enjoying it,” said Olson.
Before her current cooking program on the Food Network, Olson gained recognition and acclaim with her two previous programs, called Fresh and Sugar.
To be able to enjoy a highly successful career as a television personality, author and Home Hardware representative because of her lifelong passion for cooking and good food is beyond her wildest dreams, said Olson.
“I consider myself blessed to be able to enjoy a career that I truly love and enjoy every single day all because of this passion for food that was instilled in me as a very young girl,” she said.
Her passion for cooking, baking and food came from her grandmother Julia, who passed on her deep passion for not only cooking good food, but taking pride in how it was prepared and looks, said Olson.
“I’d definitely have to say my grandmother was my original inspiration and remains my biggest influence to this day,” she said. “I was always around food as a kid and I learned to have a real appreciation for quality food while I was growing up.
“My passion for preparing good food has never gone away.”
When asked about her key to success in television and as an author, Olson said she simply tries to keep things simple and show how much she enjoys sharing her kitchen secrets.
“I like communicating with people and I obviously love preparing good food, so I think my enthusiasm for what I do appeals to a lot of people,” she said.
Almost all good food and great meals take time to prepare and you can’t be in a hurry if you want excellent results, said Olson.
Having dozens of people show up to say hello and get her to sign a copy of her latest book was a pleasant surprise and she hopes to do more events like this for other Home Hardware owners in the future, she said.
Sologuk said she was very pleased when Olson contacted her several weeks ago and informed her she was coming to the Kelowna area and would take her up on her offer to come to Osoyoos and visit her store.
“I first met her at a Home Hardware function almost a year ago and we struck up a conversation about her possibly coming to the store if she was ever in this part of the country,” said Sologuk. “We stayed in touch and several weeks ago, she contacted me about coming to British Columbia and we managed to put this all together.
Because so many people have allergies to certain foods, Olson said she’s proud her new book appeals to a cross-section of people.
“There are chapters on food that is gluten-free, fat-free and dairy-free,” she said. “There are a lot of people out there who suffer from food allergies, but they should still be able to enjoy quality food.”
Back to Baking was published just over one year ago and has sold extremely well across the country, she said.
Sean and Shannon Peltier, the owners of The Lake Village Bakery in Osoyoos, helped prepare baked goodies for members of the public who visited Olson at Home Hardware and also participated in the evening baking demonstration.
Sologuk, who, along with her husband, have owned the Osoyoos Home Hardware store since the 1970s, said being able to bring a celebrity of Olson’s stature to her store is something she is very proud of.
“We don’t get a lot of celebrities in town and judging by the reaction we’ve had, I know a lot of people are pretty excited about Anna coming here,” she said. “It has been an exciting day for everyone and things could not have turned out better. I’m glad everyone had a good time.”
Olson said she doesn’t get the opportunity to travel to B.C. or the Okanagan Valley as often as she would like during her travels and was amazed at the area’s natural beauty.