I’m sitting at the front window of The Planet Bakery at 374 Water Street listening to Iris Dement. People are lined up at the front counter buying bread and getting lunch to go.
Suddenly, owner Ted Pearson comes flying into the restaurant sporting his usual attire: a t-shirt and jeans accessorized with a baseball cap. Ted has just returned from working at The Planet Bakery’s second location at Trent University.
The back of the house is packed for the lunchtime rush but Ted ushers me past the crowd through to the kitchen area, hands me a stool to sit on, and immediately begins kneading and portioning dough for tomorrow’s baking.
“We’ve been here for 17 years and our philosophy hasn’t changed since we first opened,” Ted explains, as he rounds and places the dough into small tin pans. “All of the food we produce is simple, fresh, and made from scratch. It tastes so good, most people don’t even realize that we only serve vegetarian food.”
Creating a menu that’s primarily plant-based stems from Teds’s desire to make good-tasting, healthy food accessible to everyone.
“I’m not anti-meat,” he laughs. “I just believe we should eat less of it. It’s better for our health and better for the planet. I’ve travelled a lot, especially to Latin America, and people are poor but they still eat well. We have this notion in North America that good food is for those who can afford it. It’s elitist.”
“People scoff at Jamie Oliver,” Ted continues. “But I really believe in his philosophy that everyone — regardless of status — should have access to good-tasting, healthy food.”
Inspired by Ted’s travels to northern Mexico and the desert, The Planet’s menu features a variety of Tex-Mex influenced food, from cheesy chipotle omelettes served with refried beans and fresh fruit to breakfast burritos stuffed with scrambled eggs, avocado and salsa. The Rosemary Walnut Burger and Quiche with Mushroom Swiss or Spinach Feta are house favourites as well.
“People come here just for our soup,” says employee Tyler Curtis. Tyler and fellow employee Ben Tyne are busy cooking and serving food on this busy Friday afternoon. Both agree The Planet is one of the most enjoyable restaurants to work at, because they get to do a little bit of everything.
“It’s fairly organic,” Ted explains. “We all pitch in and work together to make this a great environment on a number of levels. We serve anywhere from 300 to 400 people a day, and we only put out one bag of garbage a week. Everything else is composted, and goes back to the Earth.”
The Planet Bakery is open Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm.