Local Love Blog Series – Le Chocolatier

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m so excited to be sharing this feature about the brand-new owner of Le Chocolatier, Anna-Engel Lebiadowski!

A trained pastry chef, Anna-Engel is now donning her hat as a full-time chocolatier!

Anna-Engel is taking on the business from John and Belinda Spear who owned and operated Le Chocolatier since 2004. Since then, Le Chocolatier became a household name in the Bow Valley and its chocolate can be found in various locations across the country.

Specializing in merging creative concepts and whimsy with reality in her pieces, she’s excited to cultivate a sense of curiosity within with her sweet treats. She’s a true believer that playful nostalgia and outlandishness most often come in small, yet delicious, packages.

Targeting those who need a little pick-me-up or a moment to pause and savour the moment, Anna-Engel is excited to get started!

Luckily, she has a great framework to start with after John and Belinda’s hard work over the past 18 years! Le Chocolatier has become a staple in the Bow Valley, growing from the classic chocolate bars to the wide variety of confectionary treats now available at the shop. Anna-Engel is looking forward to bringing a new charge of energy to the creations, including experimenting with exciting new flavours while still honouring the well-known classics!

Anna-Engel’s ties to Le Chocolatier go way back to her time at SAIT.

The original founder of Le Chocolatier was originally a pastry chef who also happened to be Anna-Engel’s instructor during her Sugar and Chocolate Show-Piece course at SAIT. Fast-forward a few years and Anna-Engel was pursuing a commercial space for her pursuit of a chocolate business startup when she came across an ad that led her to John and Belinda.

Anna-Engel draws tons of inspiration from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory!

A career-long source of inspiration and excitement, she loves to experiment with creating treats that play with nostalgia, whimsy, and embrace the weird and wonderful parts of life. She takes her job very seriously and feels compelled to pique your curiosity by trying something new and seeing what emotions and experiences come out of it.

Originally born in Calgary, Anna-Engel has had anything but an ordinary path to bring her home to the Bow Valley.

Before celebrating her first birthday, Anna-Engel was already living in a different country and continued to move through various countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe until she was a young adult. At 19, she returned to Canada to attend the Culinary Institute of Canada in PEI. Despite her young nomadic lifestyle, when pressed Anna-Engel likes to say that she’s “from” the Bulkley Valley in Northern British Columbia since this is where she spent every summer and several winters throughout her childhood.

This coming July will mark 9 years in Banff and the Bow Valley for Anna-Engel, her longest amount of time in one place.

When she first got to Banff, Anna-Engel was working at the Eden in the RimRock Hotel where she was creating masterpieces for over four years. Since then she’s worked with various local companies and at CMH’s backcountry heli-ski lodges as an accomplished pastry chef.

Having spent nearly a decade in the Bow Valley, Anna-Engel has solidified herself into the community and has lots of love to share.

First up, she wanted to shout out local artisans including Opal Retzer of Deer Spirit Goods, Tiffany Teske of Preen Festival Fashion, and Mystee Maisonet of Om Cooking. She also loves the work being done by Kyle Obereke at Barber Shoppe Clothing Co., Lucie Darshan at CanMore Together, and Fonda Demelo at Fedora Cakes and Bakes. She also couldn’t miss mentioning her close friend, ex-roommate, and one of the owners of Nourish Bistro, Caleb Shorland. Anna-Engel credits Caleb with teaching her the value of time as an ingredient as they were making pie pastry and custard in their basement apartment kitchen together. When Anna-Engel isn’t working, you can likely find her enjoying a snack at the newly opened Epi.Canmore, grabbing a coffee from Eclipse Coffee Roasters, or sitting down for a bite at Shoku Izakaya Banff. Lastly, she wanted to make a mention of the Banff Food Rescue which is putting in the legwork to collecting unwanted or unappealing yet still good quality and edible food and goods to be recycled into our local community.

As she gained incredible experience working with great mentors and colleagues, Anna-Engel has learned there’s never enough time in the day so it’s important to prioritize.

This plays into her biggest obstacle of finding a work-life balance between her work at the store, the administrative tasks she completes once she’s back home in front of the computer, and still finding time to focus on her health and fitness goals.

Anna-Engel’s favourite part of being a new business owner in the Bow Valley is the sense of community.

She’s grateful for the amazing support received since the announcement that she’s taking over Le Chocolatier and loves feeling the connection to the Canmore community. She continues to feel a deeper sense of connection with the Bow Valley and the warm welcome she’s received has her feeling more at home than ever before!

So be sure to keep an eye out on Le Chocolatier’s website, Instagram, and Facebook for the latest updates and new creations hitting the slab, and make sure to pay Anna-Engel a visit at their location in Canmore. Life is short, eat more chocolate and embrace your curiosity to try that new flavour or the intriguing treat that catches your eye!

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