All of us at Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia were stoked to hear the news that The Biscuit Eater Café and Books has recently been awarded Taste of Nova Scotia’s prestigious 2021 Restaurant of the Year award!
This sweet little café is based out of one of the oldest homes in the seaside town of Mahone Bay on Nova Scotia’s beautiful South Shore. They specialize in brunch, afternoon tea service, and delectable sweets; all with a modern twist on well-loved classics and the ability to accommodate a wide range of dietary needs. The Biscuit Eater’s signature dish – their famous buttermilk biscuits loaded with a range of toppings from BBQ brisket to smoked bacon and eggs – is inspired by long-lived Black culinary legacies that trace back to the American South.
Beyond that, the Biscuit Eater is one of the only Black-owned businesses in their region, and the café takes its name from a short story about segregation. “People often think about segregation as an American thing, but we live in deeply segregated communities,” said Biscuit Eater co-owner, Jessika Hepburn. “The South Shore of Nova Scotia is the site of the beginning of real Black history in Nova Scotia and yet you see very little representation.”
In an effort to promote social justice and create a safer space for everyone in their community, the Biscuit Eater stocks an amazing collection of progressive books by BIPOC authors and prioritizes the hiring of under-represented applicants. One of the Biscuit Eater’s young, Black staff members, who grew up in Mahone Bay, said, “I’ve always been coming back to here just because it makes me feel safe; it feels like a family here.”
On the homepage of their website, the Biscuit Eater also prominently centers the values that underpin their business model, stating “We value community care and are a refuge and resource for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour as well as 2SLGBTQ+ visitors.”
If you’re wondering what that looks like in practice, one great example is the Biscuit Eater’s Community Care program, which allows any individual or group in the community to request a meal free-of-charge. The program is designed to ensure access to hearty and lovingly-prepared food for others in their community, and to show solidarity for actions or events that are working towards social justice. “We’ll feed you for free, no questions asked. I’m an inner-city poor kid from East Vancouver; feeding people is always going to be the priority,” said Jessika Hepburn.
Furthermore, the Biscuit Eater is also a proud and dedicated supporter of local producers and the farmers’ markets in their community. In a recent conversation with the Biscuit Eater’s co-owners, Chris & Jessika, they told FMNS that “It’s always been our goal to keep things as close to home as possible in order to support others in our community and to help strengthen Nova Scotia’s food sovereignty and security.”
When we asked them specifically about some of the local producers who they work with, the list was a long one. From Quest Coffee in Bridgewater and the Tea Brewery in Mahone Bay, to Oulton’s Meats in Martock and Schoolhouse Bakery in Martins River… it seemed that they’d found a local supplier for nearly every ingredient on their menu. “We visit the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market weekly to stock up on beautiful local produce,” they also told us, saying that they love to support many of the vendors there including Rumtopf Farm and Hutten Family Farm.
In our own recent visit to the Biscuit Eater, we enjoyed a made-to-order vegan-friendly afternoon tea service, featuring finger sandwiches, soup, salad, baked goods, fresh fruit, and some very impressive scones. FMNS wants to extend our congratulations to the Biscuit Eater in being named Nova Scotia’s Restaurant of the Year; it’s an honor that’s very well-deserved. We take inspiration from your commitment to social justice and are so grateful for your unwavering support of our province’s local producers!
All of the photos in this article are courtesy of the Biscuit Eater Café and Books and are used with their permission.