By Sarah-Lee Richardson
By Sarah-Lee Richardson
Walking down busy Rideau Street in
Ottawa, past the Shawarma King, the Spring Roll King and Shonn’s
Makeovers and Spa, the smell of freshly baked cookies warms the crisp,
cool air. The smell is coming from a former Snap-On Tools truck, which,
upon closer investigation, is no longer housing wrenches and ratchets,
but cooling racks, mixers and bins of flour and sugar. It’s a bakery on
|This past winter, B. Goods set up shop on the Rideau Canal for Winterlude.
Photos by Sarah-Lee Richardson
Walking down busy Rideau Street in Ottawa, past the Shawarma King, the Spring Roll King and Shonn’s Makeovers and Spa, the smell of freshly baked cookies warms the crisp, cool air. The smell is coming from a former Snap-On Tools truck, which, upon closer investigation, is no longer housing wrenches and ratchets, but cooling racks, mixers and bins of flour and sugar. It’s a bakery on wheels.
Brad Campeau got his cookie business, B. Goods, off the ground and onto four wheels just last year. He saw a Snap-On Tools truck and immediately knew he could tear out the red shag carpet and the ceiling full of loops for carrying tools, and replace it with a propane convection oven, fridge, double sink, and baking work area. It was just the truck he’d been waiting for.
“Sometimes it’s cramped,” says Campeau, “but if it’s just me, I’ve got plenty of room.”
Everything in the truck is mobile and fully adjustable. Because everything also has to be secure for when the truck is in motion, there are ties to hold down the cooling racks and locking drawers that won’t fly open.
“I wanted to own my own bakery for as long as I could remember,” Campeau says. “I was delivering for another bakery with a sprinter van. I had a moment of realization that I could walk from the driver’s seat to the back. What would stop me from putting a bakery back here?”
A sprinter van would prove to be too small, but by May 2007 Campeau had bought the Snap-On Tools truck. Two months and $30,000 later he was baking and selling his cookies wholesale. By August he was selling retail out of the back of the truck on a downtown street corner in Ottawa. He fitted the truck with an awning over the back door and set out display cases filled with warm, freshly baked cookies.
Cookies are B. Goods’ specialty, with nine flavours, two of which are gluten-free. Chickpea and rice flours are the bases for the gluten-free varieties – which are very chewy; Campeau pays special attention to making sure the cookies are moist enough so they don’t dry out quickly.
|Besides selling retail at festivals and outdoor concerts, B. Goods
wholesales its cookies to a number of retailers around Ottawa. The
cookies are sold stacked back-to-back in loaf tins with brown bags for
customers to fill with their selection.
“People allergic to gluten aren’t allergic to fat and sugar,” says Campeau with a grin.
He describes all his cookies as “café-style with a healthy undertone.” Campeau uses only organic flours, sugar, and spices when he can find them. He says the organic flour that he uses from Mountain Path has a nicer flavour, is of a higher quality and the price difference isn’t that much compared to non-organic flour.
Campeau made a personal decision early on in life not to eat any dairy or eggs, and as a vegan, his philosophy extends to his business. All of B. Goods’ products are dairy- and egg-free. Campeau use molasses, honey, or a non-butter spread to ensure moistness.
The top two bestsellers are B. Goods’ spelt molasses ginger and chili chocolate cookies . When I ask Campeau which cookie is his favourite, he laughs.
“That’s like asking a father which is his favourite child,” he says.
After thinking about it, he decides his “favourite child” is spelt oatmeal raisin. But then he sighs and says, “the spelt oatmeal chocolate chip is good too.” I guess like all fathers, Campeau has two favourite children.
Campeau pulls a batch of chili chocolate cookies out of the oven for me to sample. The cookie is warm, chewy and full of chocolatey flavour, with a hint of spicy chili that comes through at the end of the bite. Campeau got the idea for this cookie from a chocolate chili truffle that a former employer used to make. Because the truffle was full of dairy, Campeau was frustrated that he could never try it, so he decided to turn it into a cookie.
He took the base for a double chocolate chip cookie, took out the chocolate chips, and replaced them with freshly ground pepper, organic paprika and, of course, chili.
|Brad Campeau was inspired to create a bakery on wheels while delivering baked goods for another bakery; by the summer of 2007 B. Goods was in business.|
From spring through fall, Campeau sells his cookies out of his truck in downtown Ottawa, but his cookies can be found throughout the year at health food stores across the city. The cookies are easy to spot, because they’re sold with as little packaging as possible, in loaf tins covered with clear plastic bags, and paper bags for customers to fill. This approach keeps the cookies protected, cuts down on packaging for the consumer, and also allows Campeau to deliver them directly in the tins, which means no need for cardboard boxes or any extra packaging.
To make deliveries around town, Campeau relies on a “Virtu-car,” a car-sharing service that not only saves on costs, but also lowers his impact on the environment.
The response to the cookies has been good, especially when Campeau hands out samples. When people get a taste of how chewy and moist a spelt, non-dairy, non-GMO cookie can taste, his sales go from 24 to 200 cookies a day. Each cookie at the health food stores sells anywhere from $1.19 to $1.32 plus tax.
Campeau has expansion on his mind and recently purchased a second truck, an old Fire Events truck from Kingston. It still has the Rescue 4 plaque emblazoned on the steering column. His future plans include using both trucks in downtown Ottawa – the original B. Goods truck will be fired up as the bakery and the second truck will be retro-fitted into a walk-in retail area for customers. This spring, Campeau hopes to capitalize on his success of selling cookies at Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival on the frozen canal, by attending more outdoor Ottawa festivals and offering concert goers a sweet alternative to poutine. And he’s not only adding a second truck, he’s hoping to add more than just cookies.
“Maybe a line of tarts with nice fillings that aren’t all gelatin and sugar, all the fillings would be good stuff.”
The name “B. Goods” means many things to many people – baked goods, Brad’s goods, or “be good” to yourself by eating foods with organic flours and no dairy. Whatever B. Goods means to its customers, one thing is clear; customers see the cookies as a tastier, healthier choice for a delicious snack.
“We don’t want to be known as the healthy cookie, so much as a good cookie for healthy people.”