Victoria Vaccher's Tori's Bakeshop is one of our pickup hubs located in the Beach. Tori's Bakeshop is a delightful bakery featuring all-natural, organic treats that are dairy-free, egg-free, casein-free and refined sugar-free. Many gluten-free options are available as well. Aside from their daily offerings of light lunch fare and sweets, they are also Canada’s first Vegan and organic wine bar during their special After Hours nights on Thursday to Sunday after 6pm.

We had the chance to speak with Marcela Clarkson to learn more about Tori’s Bakeshop. Marcela is the General Manager and joined Tori’s just two weeks after the store opened in March 2012. She coordinates much of their communication including their online presence, off-site events, human resources, general ordering and upkeep. We also have Marcela to thank for the idea of topping their gluten-free chocolate donuts with Maldon salt.

How did Tori's Bakeshop get started? Why did Victoria open Tori's?
Tori's Bakeshop started in Tori's kitchen, when she started adapting her favourite recipes, passed down from her grandmother, to meet the needs of her new diet. After refining her food choices to not include animal products or byproducts, Tori felt better physically, but realized there were few places serving this need well for others. Tori is proud that her recipes are delicious in and of themselves, so everyone can eat the same one dessert and still enjoy it. The items at Tori's Bakeshop don't taste good "for vegan food," they are just GOOD, so families and friends can share in an experience together.

What is your bestseller? Do you have a personal favourite?
Clearly, the chocolate donut with Maldon salt for both. Actually we just put out our seasonal gluten-free ginger cookies, which are a serious weakness for me. Our bestseller is probably still our cinnamon bun; we sell out of them nearly every day. And despite the rising popularity of the chocolate donut, our vanilla donut is our best seller from our gluten-free section. But I am slowly converting the masses.

How did the After Hours get started? Do you ever host any special events?
If Tori's Bakeshop is Tori Vaccher's daytime persona in cafe form, then After Hours speaks to her night moves. As a vegan, she loves vegetable-forward food, and had trouble dining out and finding either only salad or faux-meat options that she could eat. Also, she loves wine. So we fought for our liquor license, and cultivated a fine-fare dinner menu of sharing plates with our head chef, Jessica Ianni, formerly of Garde Manger with Chuck Hughes. All of our ingredients are organic, seasonal, and local -- most often grown within 100 km -- and nearly everything is naturally gluten-free. We make all elements from scratch in-house. We host private dinners where as few as 12 or as many as 24 people can enjoy the space exclusively.

What is the After Hours bestseller? Do you have a personal favourite?
Nearly every table who is here for the first time orders our cheese slab, which includes three different cashew-based cheeses, shaved smoked beets, and two kinds of compote. But overall our pasta dish, which so far has been different versions of gluten-free gnocchi, is what people order most repeatedly. While initially we had thoughts of making different kinds of pasta to change up the menu, we learned early not to interfere with the passion our guests have for this gnocchi, hand-rolled to order. My favourite, though, is our seasonal vegetable platter. As someone who grew up with an iceberg lettuce salad covered in ranch dressing as my side veggie with dinner most nights, I am in awe of the power of vegetables cooked well, and in so many different ways. The plate currently features two of my recent favourite seasonal vegetables, Delicata squash and Brussels sprouts.

Tori's Bakeshop is a Fresh City pickup location. Pick up your local, organic groceries at their shop at 2188 Queen St. East every Friday between 4:00-6:00p.m.

Written and photographed by Cindy Chan.