This local bakery knows the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – and that’s as true for U.S. President Joe Biden as it was for his Democratic predecessor.
The ByWard Market’s Le Moulin de Provence, known for its “Obama cookie” when the former president visited Ottawa in 2009, pulled out all the stops for Biden’s trip to the capital.
Nicolas Bonnet, social media and marketing manager for Le Moulin, said the shortbread cookies are the result of a family-wide effort, inspired by his father, owner Claude Bonnet.
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“Contrary to most cookies we have in our display case, this was very much a family affair,” he said. “My sister, dad, mom and myself were working constantly throughout the week, going through designs. We tried to make something look professional but kept to our standard of cookie, as well as something that relates the two countries together.”
The shortbread cookies are decorated with vanilla icing and a rice-paper design on top, complete with both the Canadian and American flags, as well as the text, “U.S. Presidential Visit, Ottawa 2023,” for what Nicolas called a “simplistic but elegant design.”
And the treats, displayed between piles of the Obama cookies, keep selling out – Nicolas said the bakery has made close to 700 now, trying to keep up with the demand from excited customers. There are five team members dedicated to baking and decorating, and his family was up until almost midnight preparing for the day.
“This isn’t a factory – everything takes time to set and bake,” he explained. “We’re trying to do as much as we can.”
Earlier in the week, Claude said he wouldn’t give the “magic scoop” but was making “secret” preparations for the anticipated event.
“We do expect to see Madame and Monsieur Biden during the visit,” Claude told OBJ Wednesday. “But that’s all I can say.”
When Barack Obama visited Le Moulin’s main location in the ByWard Market during his visit to Ottawa in 2009, he was greeted with red maple leaf-shaped shortbread cookies, dubbed the “Obama cookie” in worldwide headlines.
The special visit made for a fun photo opportunity as well as huge sales for the “Canada”-iced treats, but Nicolas said his father never expected to be known for presidential cookies when he first opened the bakery 25 years ago.
“Now with the circumstances, it’s the reputation the bakery has, as well as the materialistic landmark it’s created,” Nicolas explained. “There’s an onus on the restaurant to always have the cookies.”
While Nicolas said Le Moulin has not received confirmation that the president will be stopping in, they are prepared for the event.
“At the moment, it’s status quo for us. We continue our day as usual, and if the time comes we will proceed as needed,” he said. “It’s all in the wind.”