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Desi & Stefan | Ploughman's Lunch

  • 4 min read

Run by young couple Desiree Gordon and Stefan Kirkpatrick, The Ploughman's Lunch is the sort of spot that even when closed, people are peering in and rapping at the door hoping to snag the delectable baked goods, handmade chocolate and ice cream, fresh brewed espresso and warm sandwiches cooked up in the small open kitchen in the back. The couple maintains a focus on quality organic ingredients with a 'made fresh daily' approach making this lunch spot one of the most sought after destinations in the Maritimes.

Located in rural West Dublin, NS, the Ploughman's Lunch is an unpretentious eatery harkening back to an era when life was simpler. There is a lot of history here and as soon as you enter you feel like you have been transported in time. It's a place where people of all generations in the community gathered long ago. Filled with vintage table wear, community posters, old records and knickknacks (some useful and a lot for fun), there is nothing precious about this general store. Desi and Stefan have kept it the same as it once was, highlighting the original bar with spinning stools and floor to ceiling built-ins lined with dry goods. 

This is a family affair. Juggling two boisterous children, Desi and Stefan run a tight ship that doesn't feel tight, the vibe is relaxed and friendly and the food is unforgettable. We were invited to visit them on a Monday, a day they and their staff typically reserve to take time off to rest and reset. They made us buttery croissants (the best I've had since France hands down) and breakfast sandwiches on soft freshly baked brioche buns while we talked life, family, food and the history that inspired them to purchase the building and bring it back to it's roots.

How did you two meet?

D: We met at a party where Stefan wore a beet stained shirt and we talked all night till the sun came up. 
S: We just couldn’t stop chatting and smoking and chatting until all of a sudden it was light out and I was in love.

What inspired you to start Ploughman's Lunch?

D: We were selling wholesale and at markets. Buying the little shop next to our home seemed like a logical step.
S: We were also running a small dairy that wasn’t making money so we had started subsidizing it with our baking. The store was also a place where we could sell our cheese fresh directly to customers. 


Who does what?

S: Desi’s brain created everything but I do night baking, shop keeping, cooking and plumbing, and Desi does baking in the morning. We also have great people working with us that do everything from making chocolate, baking, ice cream making, barista, and DJ.
D: I do a lot of baking these days, and also a lot of computer stuff, and ordering. Stefan does so much from smoking meat to baking in the evening to helping people at the shop and yes, unfortunately sometimes even plumbing. 

Desiree, what’s your favourite thing to bake?

D: Birthday cakes for my kids are my favourite things to bake because they always request something fun and wacky. 

Your stand at the Lunenburg Farmer’s Market boasts the longest line every single week. It must be because your treats are so interesting (and addictive). How did you come up with the everything bagel croissant?

D: We cannot take credit for the everything bagel croissant. Someone that works for us had something like it in Montreal and said we had to make it! Just standard pastry thievery. 

Tell us a little about your building? There must be some history here…

S: My favourite thing is when customers come in who remember the store from their childhoods in the 50s. It was a general store run by Edgar Publicover until he died in the mid 60s. The kids all went wild when he put the ice cream counter in in the 50s. They also used to have dances upstairs and Edgar would cut hair for a nickel in the back of the store. I’ve had an old gentlemen confess to me that he broke-in when he was 8 years old. One guy told me he would sit on a bag of peanuts and cut it with his pocket knife when Edgar wasn’t looking. Edgar’s son, Ross, now in his eighties, came in recently and sat in the barber’s chair where he got his first haircut. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

You work together and have children, how do you balance family life and a busy successful business? 

D: That is always a challenge, and a work in progress but this year we have been closing on Sundays and Mondays and none of the staff are working those days either and it’s really helped to be able to totally shut it down on those days off. 
S: Sometimes we are completely unbalanced and just yell and scream! We try to communicate more effectively though, and when we do, it’s incredible!

You live in rural Nova Scotia, what’s the best part about living in the country?

D: I love being around a lot of growers and makers and I like how the south shore has always had lots of weird and eccentric people drawn to it. It keeps it fun. 
S: Gardening and walking out in the woods is the best! Some of my favorite times with the kids are lying around in the woods, watching the creek flow, picking berries, and having’ campfires.

Where can we find you both on your day off?

D: In the summer we’re reading books and totally relaxing either on a beach or at a lake, or on someone’s boat if we’re lucky! 
S: Usually having bizarre conversations with our children.

You can find the Ploughman's Lunch at  4645 Lighthouse Route 331 in West Dublin, NS or every Thursday morning at the Lunenburg Farmer's Market.

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