If I lived in Ottawa, I couldn’t live near The Red Apron. If I did, I’d probably spend all my rent money there, and would end up living under a bridge in a cardboard box.
Jo-Ann Laverty and Jennifer Heagle started out by making and delivering meals to folks in Ottawa, all from a closet-sized kitchen.
Part of the Red Apron’s goal is to get people back to the dinner table, and make this possible for many busy families by providing the food. Many years and a lot of hard work later, they’ve expanded into their current location, a large and comprehensive shop. Their products include freshly made meat, vegetarian and vegan meals (for both delivery and pickup); every kind of house-made frozen entrée and appetizer you can imagine; sandwiches; baked goods; and shelves of high quality goods and cookbooks.
Their sourcing of ingredients is impressive. Most of their meat is locally sourced, hormone & antibiotic free, and all their dried goods (such as beans, pasta, rice, flour, and sugar) are organic. They source fresh produce from local growers & producers when in season, and even base entire menus around ingredients that are entirely locally-sourced. Their website lists all these suppliers, including Juniper Farm, Le Coprin, Bekings Poultry Farm, and True Loaf Bakery.
Jo-Ann and Jennifer support a variety of local charities, and give a hand to other Ottawa food entrepreneurs. When they moved into a bigger space and had a kitchen for lease, they turned it into an ‘incubator’ kitchen, a shared space where local small businesses could produce their culinary products at a reasonable cost (often, half the battle of a start-up is finding commercial kitchen space that isn’t going to bankrupt you from day one).
We stopped by and got to see them both at work – Michael was working on a batch of pear jam, and was pulling apricot and chili jars out of the boiler.
Some of his other flavours include rhubarb black pepper, peach and cardamom, and raspberry chocolate (that last one goes mighty quick at the farmers market, understandably).
We also watched as Pascale made chocolate vegan, gluten-free ice cream sandwiches, which for many people mean that yes, miracles DO happen.