Menaka Raman-Wilms | Nov. 16, 2018

During the day, Shereen Miller serves on Canada’s immigration and refugee board. But on evenings and weekends, she bakes cookies.

Buy The Dozen Cookies officially opened for business in Ottawa this week. Run by Miller and her husband, Mark Schacter, the new bakery features cookies created from a family recipe.

“I’m always baking,” Miller said. “And it just seemed like a good time in our lives to do it.” Miller does the baking, and Schacter runs the business.

The smell of the thick dough, which is laden with chocolate chips and walnuts, fills the space where they work. The biscotti-style cookies are sold by the dozen.

They call it a ‘micro-bakery’ because it’s still a small operation. They’re approaching their hundredth sale.

Buy The Dozen Cookies works in the Ottawa Incubator Kitchen, a commercial-grade cooking space housed in a warehouse near St. Laurent Mall. Culinary entrepreneurs like Miller and Schacter can rent kitchen space to create their confections.

The Incubator Kitchen provides more than just counter space and equipment, however. It also helps businesses grow.

“It’s not just stoves and pots,” said Paul Gorman, the president of North House Foods, the company that operates the Incubator Kitchen. “We provide a lot of different consulting-style services. They get access to people who have a lot of experience.”

The incubator has been operating for four years, and at any given time, there are usually around 25 small food businesses working there, though they use the space at different times. In addition to Buy The Dozen Cookies, there’s also currently a company that makes humus, as well as a vegan meal-delivery service.

Miller found the expertise of the incubator’s consulting chef to be particularly helpful.

“When we started, he taught me how best to scale my recipes, how to find efficiencies in the kitchen that as a home baker I would never know,” she said. “So it’s just been a really amazing learning experience.”

Miller and Schacter personally deliver their cookies in Ottawa, and package them up in the mail for orders beyond city limits.

In addition to their traditional recipe, they’ve also created a vegan option made with gluten-free flour. They do custom orders as well.

Despite the busyness of running their own company, Miller said that she and Schacter are thrilled to be working as a team.

“It’s kind of fun to have a project together,” she said.

AUDIO: Shereen Miller talks about why she and her husband decided to start their own bakery.