Julie Corbier de Lara, one of Beth’s Little Bake Shop bakers, started baking treats for her brother at a young age with her Easy Bake oven. As she got older, she said she better understood the roles that food and cooking play in her life.
“It’s part of the fabric of my family,” she says. “There is a deep and enduring love for nurturing people.”
Corbier de Lara is Sicilian, which means her childhood was filled with baking, cooking and sharing food, she explained. When she had her sons, Michael and Daniel, she passed on the tradition of the Easy Bake oven and baked with them as she had with her mother, grandmother and aunts.
Since 1993, Corbier de Lara has worked in commercial restaurants and patisseries. She joined Beth’s Little Bake Shop at 1814 Central St. as a pastry chef four years ago. Beyond baking, she also loves the fine arts. She graduated in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Corbier de Lara then combines his two interests and starts making preserves. His very first batch was apricot.
“There’s something really nice about taking all that fruit and turning it into something different, like turning a piece of clay into a beautiful shape. When I’m making preserves, I consider visual interest as well as flavor and texture,” she said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to ravage the country, Corbier de Lara was doing what many Americans did in the early months: declutter. She cleaned out her inventory of canned goods and asked her friends if they wanted any before making new batches. She quickly burned out and kept the idea of starting her own business in mind until last month when she launched One Last Bite.
Corbier de Lara still works at Beth, but now also supplies the Evanston community with fresh batches of home-canned food straight from her kitchen.
One Last Bite will stick to a production schedule, but in addition to canned, Corbier de Lara also offers biscotti that can be made anytime – quaresimali (almond Lenten cookies) and cranberry pistachio. The current selection of preserves is Sorrento Lemon, Tangerine/Cranberry, Pear and Blood Orange.
Sorrento Lemon is made with Santa Teresa lemons, which lack bitterness. This jam pairs well with herbs, and Lara’s Corbier suggests stirring in dried blue lavender, fresh tarragon, or chervil once the jar is opened. Treat yourself to whole milk ricotta on toast topped with jam or sandwiched between shortbread cookies.
Tangerine Cranberry is tangier with whole cranberries and a chewy, tender tangerine zest. It can be accompanied by cheeses such as brie or cheddar. Corbier de Lara uses Bartlett pears in its preserves. Her favorite way to eat them is with Greek yogurt and toasted almonds or walnuts.
Corbier de Lara uses the tastiest, darkest red blood oranges for the blood orange jam and adds white currants, which are high in pectin and acid. The result is a mixture of sweetness, acidity and a hint of bitterness. Lara Corbier says her mother likes to serve it with flourless chocolate cake and whipped cream.
As One Last Bite just launched in Evanston, Lara Corbier says she already enjoys sharing her love of canned food.
“I love what I do, and I think part of that is when you’re an artist, you want your work out into the world and people to appreciate it and put it in the hands of people. other people so they can like it the way you do,” she said. “It’s been fascinating to meet more people in the community by handing them a canned jar and talking for five minutes.”
Lara’s Corbier website does not currently accept online payments, but she accepts payment via PayPal, Zelle, or cash. All orders can be picked up in Northwest Evanston.