Pure and simple
At 1am, while many of us are fast asleep, Toney Edmonds is out on the road running, or riding his bike.
Before he goes, he eats a home-made muffin; when he returns, he has oatmeal.
“I'm simple like that,” the 48-year-old said.
His wife, Victoria, often jokes that he cooks more than he eats.
“I eat,” he said. “I'm just very picky. When I go to a restaurant, I want to sit down and know what I'm eating. I like simple food.”
Assuming others felt the same, the couple started Simple. The start-up kitchen offers “interesting and inventive” pastries and snacks and vegetarian and gluten-free foods.
“The concept is simple,” Mr Edmonds said. “Local unprocessed healthy cooking with a minimal number of ingredients so people know what they are eating.
“People are looking for that. They want to be able to pronounce the ingredients of what they are putting in their mouths.”
Coupled with that was the limited offerings on restaurant menus for people with alternative diets.
“We have friends who are vegan and vegetarian and they swear they can't find anything interesting to eat on this island at a reasonable price,” he said. “Basically you go to a restaurant and you get pasta.”
Initially, the Edmonds wanted to open a café. They searched for two years, but could not find a place that suited them.
So, they rented a small commercial kitchen space, started a Facebook page and offered to deliver their goods to customers. “It's amazing the marketing you can do online now,” Mrs Edmonds said. “Toney has also been working with some people to do meal planning and meal prep.”
Mrs Edmonds said a lot of people did not have the time to cook for themselves.
“We just lead such busy lives,” she said.
They debuted Simple. at a vendor promotion at Shelly Bay in August, where their gluten-free cookies were a hit.
“We were told to expect 150 people at the most,” Mr Edmonds said. “They said the crowd would be carefully controlled because they were selling tickets.”
Four hundred people showed up. “Almost all the vendors sold out,” Mr Edmonds continued. “The meat vendors went first. By the end of the event only the fish and chips guy still had food.”
It was great exposure for Simple. A month later, at a wellness fair at Barr's Bay Park, people were still asking for their cookies.
The Edmonds had not brought any along. Instead, they offered bourbon chicken and beet burgers.
As he had not been sure how well the burgers, made with beets, beans and walnuts, would be received, Mr Edmonds had only brought enough to make 25.
“We sold out,” he said. “People kept coming and asking if we had any left. I think I could have easily sold 50.”
Granted, some customers took more convincing than others. One woman had to nag her husband into trying them.
“I heard him say, ‘Hey, it tastes great!'” Mr Edmonds said. “That was great to hear.”
The Edmonds run the business together, but it is Mr Edmonds's baby. His wife is an underwriter at Markel Bermuda Limited.
The couple share a passion for cooking.
“I've liked baking since childhood,” Ms Edmonds said. “I like to do it on weekends, but I don't think I could do it for a living.”
Mr Edmonds learnt to cook in restaurants in Washington DC, where he grew up.
“I started working in restaurants at 15,” he said. “I started out washing dishes and worked my way up over the years — cooking in the kitchen, waiting tables and eventually becoming manager.”
He left the industry 12 years ago and started a commercial cleaning business that he continues to run from here.
The couple were introduced through his sister, Susan Pateras, who lives in Bermuda.
“She kept saying I should meet her friend Victoria,” Mr Edmonds said. “I really wasn't interested. What was the point when we weren't even in the same country?”
Reluctantly, he agreed to talk with her on Skype and a friendship kicked up.
“Then, six years ago, Victoria said she was coming to Washington DC to go Black Friday shopping,” he said. “She said she was staying with her cousin, who lived 20 minutes away from me. We decided to meet up.”
The rest is history. They celebrate their fourth anniversary tomorrow.
• Look for Simple. on Facebook or visit simplebda.com. The company's baked goods will be available at Milan Milan on Front Street, from the end of the month