Interview: Meet Maylia from Sammich

Interview: Meet Maylia from Sammich
Photo Attribution: 
Sammich - Photos by Shane Nicholls

A few months ago I stumbled across Sammich Cafe while looking for a good healthy lunch inside of a mall of unhealthy fast food options. This cosy little cafe is located downtown at the corner of Broad and View Streets, just outside the doors of the Victoria Bay Centre. Sammich screams “local and fresh,” and is great for a homemade sandwich, soup or meal. Locally owned and operated by born and raised Duncanite Maylia, she takes pride in her choices for her customers by ensuring the products and foods she is using are real, local, and hormone-free as well as following green and sustainable practices like choosing eco-friendly packaging or product with less packaging. After hearing Maylia talk about all her practices in the café, I soon began to fall in love with this cafe and what they represented. I was enthused to have a sit down with her and hear more about Sammich!

Sammich opened just over a year ago and had their grand opening on March 15, 2013. Happy 1 year anniversary! Serving nothing but fresh homemade sandwiches, soups, home cooked meals, baked goods and a blend of drinks, hot and cold. Using only local products, produce and sustainable practices, Maylia, being an owner/operator and working in direct relation with local farmers and distributors like Islands West, puts a lot of thought into her cafe and is well aware what ingredients are in each and every product that she chooses to use, the quality of it and where it comes from.  It is important to her and her customers to get real, wholesome food.

Fresh produce like veggies and fruit comes from local sources found right here on Vancouver Island which she says is to help support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint. The cheese and milk Sammich uses comes from a local company which is trusted and the product is guaranteed, she says this will help support jobs in Canada. Products are chosen wisely to be as best non-genetically modified, hormone free and organic. She also makes ‘from scratch’ recipes, as an example, she even makes her own mustard and mayo from scratch. And the day fresh ‘true’ sourdough is baked each day in house. All of the breads come from the local Cascadia Bakery from down the road. Sammich meats come from Two Rivers and or local farms and are hormone free, ethically raised and from farms within the lower mainland but no further than the Okanagan. All meats are roasted fresh in house with no nitrates, no extra sodium, the main difference will be in the quality and you can taste it.

When I looked up the definition of Sammich this is what I found: A sammich is a type of sandwich. However, it is not just any kind of sandwich. Any schmuck can throw lunch meat between two slices of bread and have a sandwich. But no. A sammich is not just a sandwich; it is not just a meal. Sammich is a term reserved for only the holiest and mightiest of all sandwiches. A sammich is a true work of culinary art; a feast on a bun, if you will. A sammich is not made of the best ingredients; it is made of the *right* ingredients. It needs the right meats, and the right cheese(s), the right sauce, the right veggies, and the right kind of bread. –Urban Dictionary

Maylia’s favorite sandwich, or shall I say sammich, is the Breakfast Sammich - and I have to agree as I get this sammich every time I am there, sometimes two! The Breakfast Sammich is hot and cheesy, hard boiled egg sliced up with avocado, tomato, with a touch of homemade chipotle on sourdough and buttered and grilled, it is so delicious. And her favorite drink is the local Salts Spring Island coffee brewed fresh to sip, it’s local, and is great without sugar or milk, but if you require it, all local milk and organic sugar is available. Less waste incentive: If people bring in their own cup, they will get a bigger size for free, and pay for the lower size, with-in reason.

A unique item on the menu is the exclusive Broad Street Fog, which is to touch down on where they are located, steps from her front door and front seating area. Like a London fog, instead of Vanilla, Maylia uses her own homemade Lavender.She is also working on making sweet Bavarian mustard and homemade chocolate syrup like the classic nest quick, she even has an amazing homemade lemonade recipe.

Sammich believes that it is important to know where you get your produce or products from, including how far away and how it is raised and treated. Maylia continues to support local farmers and companies such as the Duncan Butcher Shop located just north of Victoria, on the edge of Duncan where she says you can get back to the old days where you could ask questions directly to your butchers and or farmers, and be able to talk about the product before you purchase it and learn more about it and their practices. Most people have the idea that the butchers will be more expensive, however they have the same prices if not better, plus you are getting a better quality, local product from hormone free and ethically raised farms which will lead to a healthier choice for yourself and/or your family and that supports community all round. She also notes it is important to support local over a corporate business as it is important for local sustainability in our community. Maylia continues to remain a local hard working entrepreneur and has had to say no to the corporations even herself; Coca Cola has approached her several times to get their product in her cafe and she continues to say no. She believes the right choices need to be made.

When asked about the effect of cost for being organic and hormone free, Maylia said she does not like to take short-cuts - she pays close attention to detail with her food quality, and they will have the same prices as other business. The major difference is what is in those products being served. Her products are healthy and hearty and look like mom’s home cooked meals, which is what food should look like, not these perfect colors and perfect squares, this food has texture and color and smells, not artificial coloring and fragrance. Sammich is real. Maylia is open to feedback, and is willing to make small changes to adapt to all customers with different tastes or dietary issues such as gluten free. (Yes, Gluten Free options are on the menu!)

What drives Maylia to come to work each day are her amazing customers! They are not nameless or faceless, they come in and they get to know each other, she creates a connection with people and it shows!  As regulars come in they always order their favorite menu item! 

I wouldn’t trade it for the world Maylia says proudly. 

Support Sammich, because it doesn’t get much more local than this.

By Shane Nicholls



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