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Original Favourites is a small business rising in popularity, serving the savoury dessert you never knew you needed. Indulge in homemade gingerbread cake sandwiching a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream with no regrets and better yet, you can get it delivered right to your door.
Forbes Campbell is a 12 year veteran in the film and commercial media industry who works as a freelance director-producer, crew member and now baker.
Working long hours on sets through most of the week, Campbell dedicates the free time he has to his side passion -- Original Favourites, a business idea that first came about back in 2017, which the pandemic helped flourish through the additional time Campbell spent away from his day job.
Self-described as the dessert equivalent of appearances can be deceiving, Campbell's treat may look straightforward, just a new take on the classic ice cream sandwich, but thanks to the gingerbread cake, it's packed with flavour.
"Original Favourite has a very simple look but what goes on in your mouth is this complex balancing act. It has spicy heat from ginger, savouriness from the supporting spices, saltiness from sea salt, richness of the vanilla ice cream and a beautiful texture in the bite because of the density of the gingerbread."
In fact, the gingerbread cakes have been such a hit within his community that Campbell also sells them in their individual loaves, instead of just for ice cream sandwiches.
"Food has always been something I enjoyed learning about and experimenting with. Like many creative people I also did my fair share of jobs in the service industry. But the story of Original Favourites is kind of out of the blue."
More specifically, Original Favourites was inspired by Campbell's mother and late night munchies. Leaving his parents house after celebrating the holidays in 2017, Campbell says his mother insisted on the fact that he couldn't leave empty handed.
"I feel like my mom, like many mothers, kind of defined her life through her devotion to her kids and, after we left home, by being the provider of homemade treats to take with us," he says. "She now has a hard time grasping that we actually love her regardless of if she makes us cookies - but it often feels like a futile exercise to convince her of this so of course I relent and say that I’d love if she made me some gingerbread."
Returning to Toronto with two loaves of what he describes as "dense poundcake-like gingerbread" Campbell popped them in the freezer and didn't think about them again until a few weeks later when he was looking for a sweet snack.
Combining a scoop of ice cream with slices of his mom's gingerbread created an ice cream sandwich so delicious he felt it was definitely worth sharing.
"The spicy taste and dense texture was so good with ice cream! It really struck me as being something I’d never tasted before. Of course, when we are in an altered state at night it’s pretty common to have 'great ideas' that when exposed to the light of day are revealed to be pretty useless. But this wasn’t the case with my creation."
Spending his free time sharing his new discovery with family and friends, Campbell worked on tweaking the recipe while balancing his production job and come winter that same year, he developed a partnership with his friend Zach Slootsky, who started Gold Standard Sandwich and also runs The Federal.
Getting Original Favourites added to the menu over the summer with the intention to test the water and see how his idea would actually thrive, Campbell recalls selling around 200 by the end of 2018. In comparison, by the end of last year, that number raised significantly to 4,000.
As a result of Covid-19 hitting, Campbell was out of work due to productions having to shut down. When the manager at Gold Standard told Campbell that he should start delivering his product on top of just selling them in store, he realized that yes, he could indeed.
Slowly growing from sales to family and friends, then friends of friends, more people began taking notice of Original Favourites on Instagram, building Campbell's brand.
"I think it’s pretty cool that Original Favourite is part of this eclectic group of food businesses that have popped up because of the pandemic demand," says Campbell, "So many establishments have had to fold because their business dried up which is tragic. The flip side is that so many people got an opportunity to try something that they might not have because they couldn’t work."
He adds, "I hope it’s part of a new, more sustainable way of doing business that allows for people like me to be creative in a new way while at the same time offering the market something unique and local. This is a special time."
Having to change production spaces this year after the success of the previous year, Campbell's friend, Kata Ambrus, owner of Chocolat De Kat offered him space in her new shop with DeMello Coffee along St. Clair West. With top notch equipment, in good company with chocolatiers and hiring a baker part-time who just happens to be the manager at Gold Standard, this is Campbell's year to figure out just how far he can take Original Favourites, beyond just a pandemic side-hustle. In the future, Campbell hopes to be able to expand production to distribute to more local cafés and restaurants, with the eventual goal of adapting his product to be sold in grocery stores, to share with an even bigger audience.
"The special thing about Original Favourite right now is that it’s a labour of love. It’s not really turning a profit but it’s paying for itself and essentially it’s just allowing me this lovely opportunity to meet people, especially during the lock down when I was the only person people were seeing," Campbell says, "That has been a tremendous privilege. I’m just excited that people dig it and am so curious to follow where this path might lead."
Summer may be over, but that doesn't mean Original Favourite disappears. To get your hands on this sweet and savoury treat, send them a DM on Instagram for delivery or curb-side pick-up when the team is working at Chocolat De Kat. Alternatively, find Original Favourites stocked at both Gold Standard locations, Blue Bird Bar and Cygnet Coffee, where they're also available for pick-up.