The Maplewood area of North Vancouver might be best known for Maplewood Farm, a former dairy turned family attraction with more than 200 domestic animals and birds over two acres. The neighbourhood is evolving, though, with new homes and eateries turning up alongside long-standing businesses and shops. (It's one of several village centres the Disrict of North Vancouver has designated in its Official Community Plan, which includes Lions Gate Village, Lynn Creek Town Centre, and Lynn Valley Village.)
The Modern Pantry (2055 Old Dollarton Road) is a bakery that has recently opened in the community situated just east of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. North Shore native Kendall Gustavson owns and operates the space, baking and cooking on the daily.
With an interest in culinary anthropology, Gustavson wanted to plant some roots after time spent studying and working in Europe. After completing a Masters degree in food culture and communications at Pollenzo, Italy’s University of Gastronomic Sciences (during which she learned everything from the molecular breakdown of certain foods to how to properly taste items like chocolate and cheese), she worked for Borough Market in London, one of the oldest markets in the world, creating a food education program and helping open a bakery.
Once back on West Coast soil (and discovering that it’s tough to get a job with that kind of degree), she reconnected with local farmers and the Slow Food community. Having come from a family of entrepreneurs, she dabbled in various ventures, including doing food tours to Europe, making and selling locally sourced wholesale granola, and teaching cooking classes. Still, she was seeking more than a portfolio of food-related projects.
“I felt I was missing a community space,” Gustavson says while stirring granola in her new bakery and café. “To me, that’s what’s important about food: making those connections.
“I love this community,” she adds. “People are out walking around, there are lots of young families; I know everybody’s name. Baking is a way to bring people together, and being able to support local farmers and producers is another bonus.”
Among those nearby suppliers she sources ingredients from are Agassiz’s Cedar Isl Farm, North Vancouver's Two Rivers Specialty Meats, Pallet Coﬀee Roasters in Vancouver, and Richmond’s Fractal Farm.
While using seasonal items means an ever-changing menu, the Modern Pantry always has on offer a meat and a veggie sandwich, the latter made with whatever fresh produce happens to be available that day on house-made sourdough or focaccia; muffins and scones; and various types of vegetarian quiche, such as asparagus parmesan, roasted broccoli goat chasse, or sweet potato-feta.
Then there are her baked goods. Savoury items include breakfast buns (like one with charred onion, spinach, and cheddar), while sweet treats range from old-fashioned brownies and bright lemon squares to sticky buns, pie bars, peanut butter-chocolate sandwich cookies, to name just a few.
The Modern Pantry is in the same tiny mall that houses the Belmondo Café, which serves espresso-based drinks and also makes fresh scones, among many other menu items. Right nearby is Northwoods Vilage, home to Stong's, Buddha Full, Barcelos Flame Grilled Chicken, the forthcoming Colony Pub, and other spots.
The bakery is open Tuesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.