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Comfort food

Natasha Yagelnesky and her mother Jan Beardsley of the Perogy Factory show perogy triangles that are eventually cut from large sheets.  - Don Bodger
Natasha Yagelnesky and her mother Jan Beardsley of the Perogy Factory show perogy triangles that are eventually cut from large sheets.
— image credit: Don Bodger

Perogies are a guilty pleasure for many people.

The Perogy Factory at 104-460 Trans-Canada Highway in Duncan churns them out in large numbers to satisfy those cravings. The mother and daughter co-owner team of Jan Beardsley and Natasha Yagelnesky have sold more than 172,800 perogies, more than 64,800 cabbage rolls and countless pots of Borscht since opening in February.

Beardsley married into a Ukranian family and her daughter grew up in that heritage so they put considerable experience to work in their products. They formerly sold the frozen foods out of a Ford Focus for three winter seasons in Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Duncan at the entrance to the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre before settling on a permanent home.

Selling perogies is nostalgic for Beardsley and Yagelnesky, reminiscent of times when people gathered in communities to eat good food, and enjoy friends and family. People will find their traditional perogies different than what’s commonly found.

“The smell and the look is a reminder of the past,’’ said Beardsley.

“I think there’s some form of a perogy in every culture. We altered it into our own recipe.’’

“We played around to make it the right dough,’’ added Yagelnesky.

As a commercial enterprise, equipment is used to roll out the dough. But every recipe is made by kneading the dough by hand.

Doughs tend to be thinner than most people are used to. Every perogy is hand-pinched and no two are the same with two or three people making them.

They produce 80 flavours of perogies, including gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, whole wheat and unbleached flour varieties. There are also 35 kinds of cabbage rolls with beef, pork and bacon and options for such things as buckwheat and sauerkraut.

“This time of the year, it’s more of a comfort food,’’ said Yagelnesky of their selection.

For my sample, I tried perogies with spinach, feta cheese, artichokes and jalapeno with cream cheese that’s one of the top sellers. It was very good and the hint of jalapeno — not too spicy for those who are touchy about that — gave it a great flavour.

Other types of perogies high in demand include: potato, bacon, onion and cheddar; fall squash; gluten-free; and sauerkraut with bacon and dried cottage cheese.

“We make roughly 80 dozen a day to keep up with the demand,’’ said Yagelnesky.

“We knew they (people) already liked our perogies because we thought we had enough of a following,’’ said Beardsley of the previous venture. “We didn’t know if we’d make it or not. I think every new business goes through that.’’

“We wanted to keep it small for the first couple of years before we did any expanding,’’ said Yagelnesky.

Both put in long hours every day of the week, taking only Wednesdays off — if you can call it that — when supplies have to be restocked. They’re otherwise open every other day from noon to 5 p.m.

Those hours are just a small part of their day.

“Our mornings start mostly at 5 a.m. and we’re out of here between eight and 11 o’clock at night,’’ said Yagelnesky. “It depends how many perogies we sell that day.’’

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