The pair behind Victoria’s only kosher bakery, My Way Bikery, get down to family business

The Appels invented the "challnut," a challah jelly donut.

Credit: My Way Bikery. Moshe and Leah Appel

The Appels invented the "challnut,” a challah jelly donut

Husband and wife Moshe and Leah Appel have a multi-layered relationship. They became best friends at seven years old, formed a romantic relationship later in life, and are now 50-50 partners behind Victoria’s only kosher bakery, My Way Bikery.  

“Adding a working relationship wasn’t actually as challenging as one might think,” says Leah. “We fight more about what to do with the children and/or what to eat for dinner than we do about anything with the business.”  

Business decisions come easy, according to her, because the clear goal is to make money. So far the Appels have probably had only two arguments as professional partners—one over whether to use fresh beans vs. canned beans (Leah won that one), and the other over how to make what is now the bakery’s most popular offering: challnuts. 

Moshe and Leah were running a small bakery out of their home kitchen in Nanaimo when Leah invented the challah jelly donut. Still settling in from Montreal, the couple was trying to integrate themselves into the local Jewish community when Leah, who is a professional chef, was struck by the lack of kosher options in B.C. (“Leah’s not easy to impress,” Moshe interjects.) 

So she started baking kosher goods for friends and family. The pair ran their home business for a year (while simultaneously working for Service BC), with Leah doing all the baking and Moshe handling all marketing/front of house operations. 

It was around then that Moshe was approached by a man asking for challah buns with a sweet filling.  

“Moshe said, Of course,” Leah recalls with a laugh. “He collected the payment and then came to me and said, This guy ordered a dozen challah buns with fruit in them. I said, No, he didn’t, because it doesn’t exist,” to which Moshe simply replied: “Well, he already paid so you better figure it out.” 

That prompted Leah to start experimenting. She began stuffing small bits of challah with jam and topping them with raw sugar, eventually landing on one of My Way Bikery’s bestselling items, the challnut. 

But Moshe and Leah had a bigger vision to establish themselves as a formal kosher pareve bakery, and wanted to contribute to the local Jewish community in a meaningful way. So they contacted The Bikery in Victoria (or what they call the “only kosher bakery of any kind on the Island”) to look for collaboration opportunities.  

But then the owner asked Moshe and Leah if they would take over the business altogether, and they said yes. 

After a permanent move to Victoria, the Appels officially opened the doors to My Way Bikery this January. The place used to be called The Bikery because the business was one man delivering pretzels on a bicycle, but now it’s a combination of Moshe and Leah’s offerings, with The Bikery’s location and existing client base.  

“We definitely envisioned this to be a family operation,” Moshe adds. “It does make it easier to run the business as a couple when we’re not just a couple—we’re also parents and we have our children in here, our daughters and our son working with us.” 

But apparently, there’s more to running a family business than what is usually talked about. “Literally all of your family members have to be invested,” Leah says. “Grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, cousins…If one of our children needs something and we can’t do it for them, somebody needs to be willing to step in. So the whole family really has to be invested, not just the people who are on the paperwork.”