Local, organic offerings at Saskatoon’s Pique coffee shop and bakery

Local, organic offerings at Saskatoon’s Pique coffee shop and bakery

Taszia and Karan Thakur’s café has a unique, relaxed European vibe with ingredients sourced locally, featuring organic as much as possible.

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Businesses and non-profit organizations regularly open and move in Saskatoon. Today the StarPhoenix talks to Taszia Thakur, who together with her husband Karan Thakur, opened Pique in downtown Saskatoon in February.

Pique, a café that features a coffee shop and bakery, is the second restaurant for the couple who have also owned Calories Restaurant for the past five years. Taszia worked at Calories before buying it, learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business. Pique gives Taszia and Karan a chance to offer foods such as breads, pastries and croissants that aren’t offered at Calories.

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Q: How did you get started in the restaurant industry?

A: I went to culinary school right out of high school and this is just my passion. I’ve been cooking since then. I travelled around the world cooking a little bit and then I ended up back in Saskatoon in 2014 and that’s when I started working at Calories, eventually buying it when the previous owner was ready to retire. It was always our vision that we would have a restaurant.

Q: Why open Pique now?

A: I developed a really strong interest to make more specialty French pastries, croissants and sourdough bread. All of this we’ve been working on at Calories for the last couple of years, which we don’t typically do there — we needed different equipment and a different oven. So we started working on the idea of a little café.

Over the last couple years, my husband became very interested in coffee. He’s been doing lots of research and training on that. All these things came together with the new café. At Calories we do cheesecakes and cakes and everything like that from scratch but we don’t necessarily make the croissants and that sort of thing. This new business venture is more the stuff that we don’t do at Calories.

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Q: What makes piqué stand out?

A: What people tell us is that it’s a unique, relaxed European vibe — modern, but kind of rustic. We use only 100 per cent organic, Saskatchewan grown and milled flours. Our oil for deep frying is a non-GMO oil sourced locally. Our meats, eggs, fruit and vegetables are all local, and are organic as much as possible.

One other unique thing is the big open glass area where our pastry chefs work. When you are standing in line you can watch the production of the bread and croissants happen. It is something cool that you would see in Europe, but don’t really see it anywhere here.

Q: What do you feature on your menu?

A: We feature all local suppliers. We have a board that lists where we get our chicken, lamb, beef, pork, eggs, and everything like that. We are really trying to feature local suppliers we’ve been working with at Calories for years. We really want people to know where their food is coming from. For example, the chicken in our sandwiches is from Cool Springs Ranch. All of the veggies and herbs that go on our sandwiches we preserve in the summer so we can keep using them throughout the seasons. They are from a few main suppliers: Our Farm YXE, Mole Mountain Farms and Carmana Acres Farms.

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One item is our eggplant caponata. That was made last summer and preserved so we can offer the very best quality local produce that we could get at the time and turned it into something that we can use now.

Q: Do you sell retail goods?

A: We sell homemade jams and pickles and different cookies, crostinis and all kinds of things. In addition to the pastries and sandwiches we sell our bread. You can purchase breads that are used in our sandwiches.

Q: What kinds of breads do you offer?

A: We have some staple breads that we make every day, and some are made each different day of the week. Organic breads made daily are sourdough, baguette, ciabatta, focaccia, and petit brioche. On Mondays we have walnut sourdough, on Tuesdays, spelled, millet and flax rolls and on Wednesdays we have sesame sourdough. On Thursdays we offer Canadian Gruyere cheese crescents, on Fridays we have a 100-per-cent rye sourdough and Saturdays we offer cinnamon raisin sourdough.

Q: What are some popular items?

A: Chicken apple brie is our most popular sandwich. People love the flavour combination of the caramelized apple, onion, whole roasted local chicken which we shred, and then soft melted brie cheese on top.

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Our feature danish is a very popular pastry. We have a different flavour of jam in it every week or two, so it keeps it interesting, and all the berries and fruits that go into our jams are from around Saskatoon. Right now it’s wild Saskatchewan blueberry jam inside. We source those blueberries from up north. We got hundreds and hundreds of pounds of them, so we made a lot of jam.

Q: What’s on your drink menu?

A: We specialize in specialty coffees. We have Saskatoon Berry lemonade and a spritzer and different chilled beverages as well. We’re carrying mostly organic but all Canadian wines. We have a couple of beers on tap and a couple of coffee-based cocktails, including an espresso martini.

Right now we’re running a honey lavender latte where we make a very simple honey syrup with the honey from Mole Mountain Farms, who raise the bees that make our honey just outside of the city. We simmer that with lavender buds and then put it in our latte. There’s no added sugar or anything else.

Q: What do you offer for desserts?

A: Our desserts are mostly pastries — sweet and savoury pastries. We have a few desserts like tarts, cream puffs and eclairs. We also offer a fairly large selection of individual-sized cheesecakes.

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Q: Do you offer gluten-free items?

A: Our staple roasted heirloom tomato soup without the crouton and our green salad are gluten free. Any of our sandwiches can be made on Casita Foods gluten free bun. We also make gluten free doughnuts in addition to our regular sourdough doughnuts. We currently make two flavours — a cinnamon sugared brioche style sourdough doughnut and a spiced apple fritter.

Q: You offer a skip the line ticket?

A: We just introduced a QR code. You can download the Pique app to your phone or your mobile device. And then you can order online whenever you would like to. When you come in our door you can just go to the front because you’ve already paid. You normally have to wait in line to place your order so we needed to make something quick for the business crowd to just be able to pre-order lunch and pick it up.

Q: How did you decide on the name Pique?

A: We kind played off of the phrase “to pique your interest”, or to become curious. We have a slogan, “Pique for the epicurious”. Epicurious are people who are interested in food or who are foodies. It’s all kind of a play on that.

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Pique
Chef Taszia (left) and Karan Thakur opened Pique in February 2024. They are pictured here at Calories Restaurant, which they have also owned for the past five years. Supplied photo

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Piqué

Owners: Taszia and Karan Thakur
Address: 130 — 4th Avenue North
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.piqueyxe.ca (coming soon)
Check: Facebook, Instagram

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