Looking to meet a friend for a kosher coffee date? Jewish Ottawa residents now have a brand-new kosher establishment where they can enjoy delicious baked goods and light meals.
Keepin’ it Vegan bakery is now under Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut (OVH) certification. Their grand re-opening for the Jewish community is on Sunday, March 5, at their new west-end location, 3 Chartwell Ave., in Nepean, where businesswomen Jordan Pett and Eva Laflamme, the masterminds behind the venture, will be offering a free slice of cake to all guests, while supplies last.
The bakery offers a seating area for 12 people with the possibility of adding three to four more seats. Guests can expect mom-and-pop style offerings like sandwiches, salads, and bowls as well as baked goods and coffee.
“We are hoping in the future to add patio space so when the weather is nice, people can eat outside as well,” said Pett.
“This is a fantastic option for our community,” said Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum of the OVH. “Keepin’ It Vegan offers an all-kosher menu made of wholesome quality ingredients. Though kosher certification of an establishment is of the most complex components in the work I do at OVH, it is also the most gratifying as it will directly impact our wonderful community and the visitor who frequent it."
In explaining the decision to become a kosher venue, Pett shared it was all in the timing.
She explained that they used to run a corporate lunch catering business and the sous chef they worked with had experience in a kosher kitchen in Winnipeg.
“He explained that our [vegan] business model was so close [to a kosher model], so he planted the seed.”
Then as their bakery, which was launched during COVID with a simple model of a closed kitchen with pre-ordered goods and curb-side pickup, grew in popularity, the decision to move to a bigger location with a larger kitchen meant they could also take on becoming kosher. This move and their expanded space, which now hosts a team of six, put Pett and Laflamme two and half years ahead of their business plan.
What has propelled them? In part, it is the popularity of vegan cuisine and, of course, that their products are delicious. Pett, a Red Seal trained chef, and Laflamme, a health science major with experience in hospitality and event management, share a passion for creating upscale vegan food.
“People don’t say ‘Yuck, that’s vegan...’ They say, Wow! That’s vegan!’”
They also pride themselves on meeting the requirements of people with different dietary concerns and giving people the enjoyment of eating high-quality, specialty food.
“We care about community,” said Pett sharing how pleased they were to witness the excitement of a Jewish family entering their bakery for the first time and realizing they could sit down and enjoy food together. (While the grand opening is next week, their doors are already open as they get their kitchen up to speed.)
Pett said she first learned how to cook vegan food when she worked at the Wild Oat in the Glebe and she found it fascinating.
“People wonder how do we make egg-based products like macarons without egg whites? How is that even possible?”
She explained that some of the ingredients they use are potato protein and aqua fava, which is a liquid that comes from chickpeas. Both can mimic the quality and structure of egg whites, with the potato protein best used in macarons.
Along with their beautiful macarons, their specialties include challah, sourdough bread, croissants, cakes, cinnamon buns, Nanaimo bars and more. Specialty custom cakes can be ordered on their website and they will also have catering platters available, like sandwich platters for office lunches, which will feature products from their savoury menu.
Some of the ingredients needed for the savoury menu are still being sourced as they find kosher products, but they will soon be offering artisanal cheese-style products as well as plant-based meats.
“They are completely vegan and mimic the savouriness and texture of cured meats,” said Laflamme.
The bakery duo is very excited to host the Jewish community and hopes to see as many people as possible on March 5. To stay up to date on their offerings and menu, you can visit their website and follow them on social media, Facebook and Instagram.
For more information on other kosher sources in Ottawa, please visit the Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut’s website: https://www.ovhkosher.ca/.