Occupation: Pastry Chef and Owner, Sweet SAAK Bakery
Training: Bermuda College Culinary Arts Programme; Institute of Culinary Education, NYC
Degree: Associates of Culinary Arts, Bermuda College
Family and tradition are at the core of what makes up Sweet SAAK Bakery. Kamilah Cannonier, entrepreneur extraordinaire, is passionate about being successful and determined to create a legacy that will make her parents proud, as well as sustain her family for years to come. She's lived in Japan - and New York City, laboured in the kitchen of Dominique Ansel (aka the man behind the renowned Cronut), baked for five Premiers of Bermuda, and currently employs her father at the bakery (Yes, she is her father's boss...that's its own story). With an even temperament, combined with discipline and focus, she manages to run a business, be a wife, and mother a teenage stepson along with three younger children. Not many can say they've experienced or even accomplished this much in her short thirty-plus years, but Chef Cannonier, with a humble spirit and easy going attitude, takes it all in stride.
When did you fall in love with baking?
I would assume as a child. I can remember helping my mom bake for my dad's cricket tea break on a weekly basis. These memories combined with certain skills I learned from her set me on the baker's path.
"In high school, when it came to choosing electives, I chose Physics, Chemistry and Design & Technology. Most people pick photography and cookery...I've never taken a cookery class. I chose economics and business management. I guess in a roundabout way I prepared myself for this future"
What inspired you to join the profession?
After having my son, I knew that I needed to find a career that would allow me you utilize all of my talents and culinary arts has proven to be the best fit.
What has been your journey to becoming a pastry chef/baker?
I could write a book on my journey, and maybe I will but for now I'll keep it short. I first studied and trained as a chef at Bermuda college, then travelled to New York to attend the Institute of Culinary Education for pastry school. Trust me, there are quite a few interesting chapters in-between those two points.
What do you think about Bermuda's food scene?
I'm excited for Bermuda's food scene. I can see the growth within the culinary market so I'm hoping that within the next few years we'll develop into a culinary destination.
Now About Those Cinnamon Buns... Legend has it, the original recipe was the creation of older brother Ankoma. Customer demand and a number of small tweaks have resulted in the now infamous buns becoming a weekly staple at the bakery.
Where do you enjoy dining out in Bermuda?
With the crazy schedule that I have dining out isn't always and option. But on the occasion of much needed date nights we usually find ourselves at Waterlot. (We be all classy like that hehehe)
What inspires you in the kitchen?
EVERYTHING! Tastes, smells, textures, seasons all play a part in my meal prep. Ultimately I am restricted by my family's taste in food, but I've been slowly introducing new foods and flavors to them.
What inspires you about Bermudian cuisine?
EVERYTHING! Lol! Bermudian cuisine is simple to prepare and also easily transformed into new dishes. My Sweet SAAK already shows our Bermudian pride through our baked goods. We are now introducing Bermudian staples into our Sunday breakfast menu…and beyond.
What is your favourite Bermudian dish?
Fish Cakes On Hot Cross Buns!!! Bermp Bermp!!! This combination perfectly epitomizes the typical Bermudian pallet; salty/savory and sweet.
The holidays are around the corner. What do you bring to Christmas dinner?
I bring EVERYTHING! (Is there a limit to how many EVERYTHINGs I can use?) Like literally I'd bring everything. But for a dinner that normally has up to 15 dishes, each family member is usually responsible for a dish or few. I'm clearly on dessert duty. I also carve the ham and turkey cause I got skillz!
If you could travel to any country in the world based solely on the food, where would you go?
In my early 20's it would have been Italy; pasta and risotto all day, mid 20's America; Steakhouses and gastro pubs, 30 Mexico; Nachos, Guac and Tequila be the go to at the moment but I'm thinking that Greece will be my next culinary adventure. I can taste the moussaka and baklava already.
What’s next for the Queen of Sweet Saak?
We know Ms. Sweet SAAK has some tricks up her sleeve ;). This shrewd business lady tucks the kids into bed at night and then settles in to concoct her newest culinary escapades. How do we know? She's among Bermuda's social media elite and one look at her Instagram feed has you committing calorie sin or better (worse) yet, participating in her family style bakery events. Team #biteofbermuda has already been seduced by a cupcake class - the adult version (more Bailey's please), a Friday pizza night - can you say Chicken Everything!!!, and Sunday Breakfast (we are never sharing a plate again!). So we won't mention that she now gets regular visits from us for Johnny bread, Pumpkin cake, and Homemade Granola. Be sure let us and Kamilah and her team at SweetSAAK know what YOUR favourites are in the comments below, and if you don't have one yet, get one soon because you're missing out!