How many 85-year-olds do you know in Leaside who are active entrepreneurs?
I’ve just met Catherine Mix, the Catherine of Catherine’s Antipasto, and she is going full-steam ahead with the business she started 32 years ago, because, as she says, of “me being bored, I guess”.
When Catherine was a young wife and mother living in the Kingsway, she always enjoyed hosting fancy dinner parties, often starting with her grandmother’s or mother’s recipes, but giving them a bit of a twist. She had the confidence and interest in food to go from that start into owning a commercial bakery on Brooke Ave.
Her accountant husband’s only query was, “Do you think you can make any money?”
At her store she baked in the mornings and then made preserves and the original antipasto in the afternoons. She was the first person to let people bring in their own pie plates and have Catherine’s pastry and filling inserted. She stopped making pastry when her arms were giving out from rolling the dough, but she still has all her recipes.
Now, the business has two co-packers in different, small plants, where Catherine and her daughter, Jennifer, the sales manager, are able to oversee operations and maintain the quality that is their hallmark. One plant produces the antipasti and the other the jellies.
The original antipasto has recently been joined by a spicy vegetarian version. Again, Catherine developed the recipe in her own kitchen.
That kitchen is now in Leaside. Catherine has been living in Garden Court on Bayview for the past 10 years. And of course, living locally, her products are in a number of the food stores along Bayview. At this time of year, a special treat is cranberry sauce with the addition of oranges, pecans and brandy.
Daughter Jennifer didn’t intend to join her mother’s company when she graduated from university with a degree in English literature, but she followed her mother’s suggestion that she try selling for the company and found that she enjoyed it, and working with her mother, so much so that she is now co-owner. They now work with two distributors to get their products into specialty and grocery stores across Canada.
One product that isn’t still in their line is a chili sauce. It has a great taste, but it just doesn’t sell, says Catherine. She thinks it’s because many shoppers don’t know what it is.
My husband could relate to that. It wasn’t something in his background growing up, so, when as a young man in an apartment, a recipe he was trying called for chili sauce, he promptly whipped together a lot of chili powder and water. Must have been an interesting meal for his two roommates.
Catherine says, “I had a lot of energy in my day,” but that day clearly isn’t over. She was off to work a demo the weekend following our chat, and looking forward to future bookings.
The distinctive label with her name inside the oval may get a bit of a tweak sometime soon, but you’ll still recognize it, and, I hope, think of energetic Catherine Mix.