WINCHESTER – The snack food market in Canada is extremely competitive, but Peacasa Snacks, a group with a connection to Winchester, Ontario seem to have gotten a foot in the door by offering something a bit different.
Peacasa Snacks is a London, Ontario based company that was formed in 2020 by Aaron Johnstone and Victor Delage. Delage grew up in Winchester and the south of France before leaving to attend university. A third member, Alex Porteous joined the team in 2022 after spending his life up to that point in Winchester.
Both Delage and Porteous were at Winchester Foodland on Saturday afternoon, giving local folks a chance to taste test their product, which is a chip created from chickpeas, hence the name Peacasa.
Delage originally came up with the idea while spending some time in France after he and Johnstone graduated from the University of Ottawa. Looking for a break before diving into the working world, the two set off on a European vacation that took them through Corsica and the south of France. They discovered a crêpe made from chickpea flour and olive oil and baked in a wood-fired oven. It is a popular street food known as “Socca.”
The vision was to create a similar product in chip form. Early versions were created in 2019 and sold at farmers’ markets in Toronto. It was successful enough that a recipe was developed to allow for the chips to be manufactured at scale. A successful Kickstarter campaign was run, which allowed the group to begin commercial production and bring their product to a larger market. They are currently available in 150 stores across Ontario.
The chips currently are available in two flavours, Sea Salt, and Honey Dijon, but they are currently testing at least one additional flavour.
The option of a product that tastes good and is a bit healthier is a welcome addition to the snack food menu, because Canadians’ love affair with chips doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon. How are Peacasa products different from what is already on the market?
The goal of Peacasa was to make chips that taste as healthy as an unhealthy chip, but that are good for you,” said Delage. “Right now, on the market, we’ll find out that a lot of healthy chips don’t taste as good, which is one of the reasons people don’t really want to switch over. Our focus was to make a chip that tasted good. On top of that, they are healthier for you, given the protein content, given the fact that they’re non-GMO, and kosher and gluten free. These are all the attributes that we tried to focus on.”
The ingredients are part of the reason for this, but they also developed a new process for preparing them. “A lot of chips that come out right now that are bean based, will actually incorporate similar processes to how tortilla chips or potato chips are made,” said Delage. “But we invented a new process where we can only use chickpea flour as a base. We bake our chips first and then lightly fry them at the end, so they are less greasy.”
While Delage and Johnstone met in university, Porteous and Delage had been friends since their days at Winchester Public School. After high school (North Dundas District High) they went their separate ways, but when the decision was made to turn the idea into a viable business, they set off to London, Ontario, which is seen as a testing market for Canada.
It’s funny how childhood relationships can often factor in later in life, as it has for Porteous and Delage. “I’ve known Victor my whole life and knew that they were developing Peacasa, and I was jumping around working different post offices across Eastern Ontario,” said Porteous. “I just saw this as a new opportunity to start fresh, help my friends out and really, I just believed in the product once I tasted it, so it was a pretty easy sell for me to jump on and kind of help develop everything from the beginning.”
Both Porteous and Delage said it was great to have a chance to return to Winchester, see some old friends and show them what they had been up to. Porteous worked for a few years in the very Foodland they were sampling their product.
“It’s just so rewarding to go from stocking the shelves to putting something on the shelves,” said Porteous. “I very much like it here, I love all the people, it’s a very easygoing community. Doing samplings like this is giving back and letting people know what we’re up to. We’re pretty far away in London, but any chance we get to come back up here and get people to try the product and support us is fantastic.”
For more information on Peacasa snacks, you can visit their website at peacasa.com.
Terry Tinkess is a professional photographer, educator and journalist. He has been making a living with a camera and keyboard since 1999 and has been featured in such publications as The Ottawa Citizen, Cornwall Standard Freeholder, The Globe and Mail, The Miami Herald, Ottawa Construction News, The Ontario Construction Report, Ontario Home Builder Magazine, Reed Construction Data, Canadian Potato Business and most recently, The Record and Eastern Ontario AgriNews. Terry lives in Ingleside, Ontario with his wife Brenda, Mia the anxious Pittie and cats Wally and Chubbers.