Crawling up Ed Tatton's forearm is a tattoo that, at first glance, is hard to decipher. But look a little closer and you realize it's not like many pieces of ink out there.
"It's (a tattoo of) rye, oat, spelt and red fife, which is Canada's first wheat variety," Ed explains. "I'm a wheat geek."
Ed now has another outlet for his geekdom in the form of his very own bakery, BReD, which he opened with his wife Natasha in Creekside last week. The brick-and-mortar space is the culmination of nearly two years of work for the couple, and grew from a weekly bread program run out of the back of Alta Bistro that became an underground local sensation.
When Ed started at the modern French bistro several years ago, bread was brought in from bakeries in the area. But with Alta Bistro's commitment to using local, organic ingredients, Ed decided to bake his own naturally leavened sourdough. The loaves became such a hit that Ed started selling them out of the restaurant's kitchen once a week to customers that ordered in advance.
"I did that for almost two years at Alta. It was great, and they were so good to me," Ed says. "Then, basically, I outgrew the equipment. I was doing eight batches in this small mixer and my hours were becoming longer and then I had to do my shift afterwards. It was a long, long day."
At some point, the idea struck the Tattons that maybe it was time to set off on their own. They began to research what it would take to start their own shop, wrote "a crappy" business plan, as Ed puts it, and sold their home in the U.K. to help finance the business. On Friday, March 22, they officially opened to a wave of support—and lines winding around the block—at 206-2067 Lake Placid Road.
"It means everything to me. I get emotional," Ed says, eyes welling up. "I've been in kitchens for 20 years, so to do this with my wife is amazing."
The six-seat bakery will be focused primarily on the takeout crowd, with a small menu made up of Ed's renowned loaves—he says the shop will likely offer country sourdough, sesame, oat porridge, poppyseed and multi-seed loaves, along with special seasonal loaves—a handful of flour-free treats as well as other small baked goods, such as baguettes, cookies, and cinnamon buns.
"We're just trying to bring bread back to what it was in the traditional way," Ed says.
In addition to containing no yeast or preservatives, BReD's line of products are entirely plant-based. Both vegans themselves, Ed and Natasha say it was important that their shop reflected their ethos.
"Of course, everyone makes their own choices and they're on their own journey, but if we can nudge them in what we see as the right direction, then we'll feel better about the business we're in," explains Natasha, who is taking care of administrative duties.
In an era when it's become trendy for restaurants to pay lip service to sustainability, the Tattons are actually walking the walk. The level of consideration they have put into every single element of the shop is remarkable. Everything from the ovens to the coffee beans, which are sourced from "beyond fair trade" roaster Detour and come in completely compostable packaging, to the Canadian maple wood used in the interior, has been selected with ethics in mind.
"Every choice we make is thought out to the best of our ability," says Natasha.
"We're not putting style over substance. We want the substance to be what's important."
Also responsible for the front of house, Natasha says the coffee will reflect their commitment to craft as well. "When people think of good baristas, what I've found ... is that there's a lot of emphasis on latte art. We're more concerned with getting the shot of the espresso coming out of the machine correctly," she says. "It's nice to have a picture on top of your latte, but ultimately you want a coffee that hits the spot."
In the end, the Tattons' main goal is to foster a sense of connection that will see customers returning to the shop time and again.
"We want people we see two or three times a week to come in, have a good rapport with us, and be part of the community," Ed says. "We already feel like this is definitely our home and we want to stay here for a long time."
BReD is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit edsbred.com, or the BReD-Organic Sourdough Facebook or Instagram page.