Elmo Baking Co. has made a concoction that's actually worth lining up for—so where are the lines?
I'm not a proud man. I know what it's like to be at the bottom end of a bag of GH Cretor's Chicago Mix. The Costco size. So when I first heard murmurs of a Chicago mix cookie, I was...intrigued. And when I heard it was from Vancouver (well, Richmond, but still) I was blown away. So I hopped in my car, expecting to be greeted with the sort of line-ups reserved for chain restaurant Japanese Cheesecake at Metrotown. But when I rolled into Smokehouse Sandwiches, located in an unassuming strip mall on the Westminster Highway and having no website, I was the only one there. How can this be? Vancouverites love lining up for stuff. Ramen. Pasta. Brunch. I suddenly was concerned that the cookie—the brainchild of Elmo Baking Co's Elmo Brian Pinpin—must suck and, eager to spread out my risk, I ordered a a coffee-crusted, strawberry-glazed beef brisket sandwich and it was amazing. So much so, that I wasn't even upset that the cookie was destined to be a let down. But the cookie isn't a let down—the cookie is flipping wonderful, capturing the weird salt, sweet interplay of Chicago Mix and not shying away from the umami shot of the powdered cheese. But even more incredible is that, as far as I can tell with a google search, Elmo is the inventor of this sublime creation. The pastry chef started as a cook at Bishop's in the early 2000s, then worked with Jeff Van Geest at Main St.'s beloved Aurora Bistro before turning his attention to the sweet life. He then apprenticed with Thierry Busset at CinCin, JP Sanchez at Blue Water before spending the last few years with pastry God, Thomas Haas. So he's a genius with a pedigree—so where are the lines? Where are the endless stream of selfies of influencers biting into this wonder? I'm at a loss people: you line up for the most inane things and gleefully document it to boot, but when actual genius presents itself, you can't be bothered. It's also available at Steveston's Sanctuary Cafe if that helps get your collective asses in gear. Elmo looks to be opening his own spot soon (maybe New West, maybe Port Moody) so maybe that will kick off the cavalcade of queues that his creation deserves. Until then, more for me.