Meet the babe on wheels who’s bringing back the paper bag lunch.
… and doing it with style.
I met up with Elizabeth Callahan at her Kensington apartment to talk about her upstart venture, Lilly’s Lunches. The new service started earlier this week, which means Callahan has been busy preparing dozens of fresh sandwiches and homemade sweets to deliver to her clients all around the city by bicycle. Members sign up for 4 lunches 4 weeks in a row, $10 per lunch. All you need to do is check out the the menu and give her a call. Callahan gives us the scoop.
How did Lilly’s Lunches get started?
When I was in university I would pack my lunch every day and I just started packing extra sandwiches for my friends. I thought it would be a great idea if someone made paper bag lunches and sold them, cutting out that extra step in people’s day before they leave the door and go.
After I graduated and got a job working for a non profit, I thought, I’m 25 now, I don’t have any commitments, if I’m going to take this idea and do it, I should do it now. So I quit my salaried, pensioned office job to pursue this. I was sitting in my office thinking, if I could do anything in the world, what would it be? Eat food, visit friends, and ride my bike. And so I did.
I don’t think there’s anyone else in the city doing anything like this.
I’m not sure that anyone else is. There’s a company in New York that does something similar where you can order from a variety of different restaurants and they’ll courier it to you by bicycle. I wanted to do something a bit different.
What inspired the names of your sandwiches? Your homies?
They are they’re all my homies. Those are the names of people who have either inspired the sandwich or just been a really big fan of. The Jane is named after my mom, that’s something she would put together all the time for herself. The Lilly is something I make for myself regularly, The Steve is my boyfriend. That’s usually what I would make for him. The Alex is for my brother. He knows how to treat himself.
The “Big and Amazing Everything Cookie” truly lives up to it’s name.
Explain the subscription that Lilly’s Lunches works around.
The idea is that you pick a day of the week that works for you and commit to 4 lunches. So if you picked Thursday, you’d get lunch every Thursday for 4 weeks. You can do it as many days per week as you want. I’d adjust it if someone wanted 4 days in a row. I do one off orders as well, but not for more than 15 people. 15 lunches is the maximum I can fit in my box on my bike. It’s just me, so I want to be able to do it at a level of quality I’m satisfied with.
Why do you choose to deliver by bike?
The city accommodates cycling so well and it’s also the fastest way to get around. I did 5 deliveries today, first to Toronto Western hospital, then I went down to Bay and Wellington, then I went to Queen and John, then I was up at St. Goerge and Dupont and I did it all in about an hour and 15 minutes. I also stopped and chatted with each person. I have a friend who’s a surgeon at Western and she gave me her locker combination and I drop a sandwich in her locker and she just leaves me an envelope.
This is where Callahan stashes up to 15 brown bagged lunches at a time. Her friends at Curbside Cycle make sure her bike is in condition for serious sandwich storage.
Where do you source your ingredients?
From the most part from the market. I get my bread from My Market Bakery (184 Baldwin St., 416-593-6772), I get most of my produce from Sunwah Fruit Market (229 August Ave., 416-979-2813). I get my meat and cheese from Cheese Magic (182 Baldwin St., 416-593-9531) and few other places. There’s also not a lot of packaging which I appreciate.
What are you favourite places to eat in Kensington?
I’m a huge fan of Jumbo Empanada (245 Augusta Ave., 416-977-0056). I frequent Urban Herbivore (64 Oxford St., 416-927-1231), because whenever I go there my body thanks me. I really like Cora’s Kitchen (69 Kensington Ave., 416-593-2672) for their baked goods. Aside from the market, anywhere that has a great breakfast sandwich. Breakfast sandwiches are a bit of an obsession of mine. I live for them.
What do you listen to in the kitchen?
I like something with a bit of a beat. This morning I listened to Ratatat and a bit of Jay Z to mix it up. I’m into making playlists for cooking. It has to be happy music. I like jazz too.
Lilly’s Lunches is on Twitter @lillyslunches and Tumblr lillyslunches.tumblr.com