From business to baker

Alberta School of Business alumnus to star on latest season of the Great Canadian Baking Show

Larry Harris was always the self-proclaimed nine-to-five finance guy working in the head office. But when he was laid off from his job in June 2020 as part of ongoing budget cuts to post-secondary institutions in Alberta, he decided to try his hand at one of his longtime passions: baking.

Now less than one year later, Harris (‘99 MBA) and his family own Bonne Vie Bakery—a thriving microbakery in Edmonton—and on February 14, he’ll walk into the baking tent on season four of the Great Canadian Baking Show, a competition that brings together amateur bakers from across the country to compete in different culinary challenges.

“The experience of being on the show has been wonderful,” said Harris, whose opportunity to compete on the show was a long time coming—he has applied for every season and auditioned for the previous two.

“All my fellow bakers are just wonderful people and we’ve developed really great friendships that are going to go on forever.”

Harris has enjoyed baking for as long as he can remember, but really began to tackle the craft in earnest after a honeymoon trip to Paris. For nearly thirty years, he used his time in the kitchen as a creative outlet from his day job, making loaves of bread and goodies for his family, friends and coworkers.

“It’s almost magic, taking simple ingredients like flour, water and salt, combining them, baking them and turning them into beautiful, local bread,” said Harris.

Long before Bonne Vie, Harris was known for his sourdough; his Jalapeño White Cheddar Sourdough Loaf is now a bestseller on his online store. Like all his sourdough products, his Jalapeño White Cheddar Sourdough Loaf is fermented with Lagertha, the sourdough starter he named after a main character from Vikings, a historical television drama.

When home kitchen regulations changed, allowing him to both sell products baked in his home and launch a baking business with a lot less up-front capital, rather than looking for another full- or part-time position, he decided the time was right to open his microbakery.

“People always told me that I should open up a bakery,” said Harris.”There’s an appetite for what I produce, and so far, it seems to be going pretty well.”

Despite the 180-degree career pivot, Harris said the skills he’s honed over decades of working in large organizations—like problem-solving and adaptability, for example—have helped him in his new venture.

But that’s not to say there hasn’t been a learning curve; he’s had to figure out how to manage and promote his business on social media and launch an e-commerce website, for example.

“There’s all these little things that you do as an entrepreneur that you don’t do in a regular, nine-to-five job,” said Harris.

Asked if he has any advice for business students or recent graduates hoping to take a non-traditional career path? Go for it, said Harris, and if it doesn’t happen right away, keep working.

Larry’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield:  Two dozen


  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, melted & cooled to about 80 F
  • 1 cup (200g) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (70g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup (185g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (130g) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 yolk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup (250g) dark chocolate chips


  • Heat oven to 325 F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Combine melted butter and sugars together in a stand mixer and beat with a paddle attachment for about 2 minutes.
  • Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Beat together egg and yolk in a separate bowl. Add vanilla.
  • Add egg mixture to sugar mixture. Beat mixture thoroughly, about 2 minutes.
  • Add flour mixture and blend all together on low. The dough should be relatively stiff, you may need to add another tablespoon or two of flour
  • Finally, mix in chocolate chips.
  • Form into 2 tablespoon balls, or use an ice cream scoop. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  • Ideally, place in the refrigerator overnight, or at least for a couple of hours. If you can’t wait, well just go ahead and bake—they will spread a bit more.
  • Bake 12-14 minutes, until slightly brown along edges.


Double Chocolate Variation: Reduce flour by ½ cup (65g) and add in ½ cup (85 g Dutch process cocoa (I use Cacao Berry Extra Brut Amber) to the flour mixture.

Chocolate Orange Variation: Add in 2 tablespoons of minced orange zest when beating butter and sugar.