Local Eats: Rise Authentic Baking Co. in Grand Rapids offers classic treats with a vegan, gluten-free makeover

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Nick and Becca Van Liere never considered themselves bakers, but their Rise Authentic Baking Co. has evolved from an apartment pastime to a completely vegan and gluten-free bakery.

When the couple were studying natural resource management and social work at Grand Valley State University, Nick said he never thought of opening a bakery.

But seven years later, the bakery is a staple in the city’s West Side community at 1220 Fulton Street.

The duo is pulling out typical baking ingredients such as eggs, butter and flour in favor of substitutes such as vegan butter and flour alternatives. Instead of salmon on a bagel, it’s a carrot substitute on a homemade gluten-free bagel.

Nick Van Liere said that when he switched to a vegan diet at the age of 18 he found the area didn’t have enough options for his lifestyle, so he took matters into his own hands, played around with various recipes and studied vegan To bake.

“So being vegan was the kick-start for the whole idea and concept,” he said. “We really wanted to be able to bring a plant-based option into town, and there weren’t many options at the time. And the same goes for gluten-free products. “

Rise Authentic Baking Co. was founded when he and Becca started baking from their 450-square-foot apartment in their West Side neighborhood.

While space was limited, the demand for their specialty cakes and donuts was not. The duo had to enter into community partnerships with the former vegan restaurant Bartertown Diner and the Crossroads Bible Church, which enabled them both to use their commercial kitchens to increase production.

After four years, the bakery found its permanent home on Fulton Street. The store front has been described as a tangible way to further normalize vegan and gluten-free baking.

Co-owner Nick Van Liere said Rise’s first home was in a 450-square-foot apartment that has since evolved into a community-oriented space over the years. (Photo for MLive by Rena Martin)

“For people who are not familiar with what we do, they might think, ‘Oh, it’s just a cake or it’s just a donut,’ but they don’t understand that behind the scenes and many years of technology We have to test a product, develop it and get it to a place where we can offer a product that we are really proud of, ”said Nick Van Liere.

“It takes a lot of work to get to this point. It takes a lot of work to get a product that is vegan and gluten-free and that you can stand behind and really enjoy when someone eats and represents our company well. “

Popular points of pride include a range of bespoke cakes. Almost 30 are being prepared this Mother’s Day weekend. The bakery is also known for their donuts, which were an early fan favorite.

On the hearty side of the menu, the breakfast rolls, which are only offered on weekends, are currently hot menu items. They are served on homemade gluten-free bagels with mung bean eggs, white bean sausage, eggplant bacon, homemade cheddar cheese and sriracha mayo.

“People love them,” said Van Liere, who said people come back every weekend for something. “It was really cool to see people embracing this tradition so well.”

On the sweet side, the bakery’s classic oatmeal cream cakes are also vegan and gluten-free, made from fluffy vanilla buttercream between two biscuits.

“There are a lot of childhood treats from people who cannot eat them in adulthood because they are vegan or gluten-free,” said Van Liere. “It’s the perfect thing. People love them. They are also one of my favorites. “

He said the oatmeal cream cakes and their “mustess cakes” represent one of the stronger elements of Rise Authentic Baking Co: the ability to return vegan or gluten-free memorable goodies in new ways.

“It’s like they’re excited that their kids can have these things and they can’t find them anywhere else,” said Van Liere.

He said that along with vegan and gluten-free options, it forms a community because that’s what food has the power to do.

“It’s really cool that Rise can be a part of the celebration when we send out a custom cake and we know they’re throwing a little party for someone’s birthday or graduation, or … people celebrating their mothers,” said Van Liere. “We’re only going to be a small part of these people’s lives, and that’s what it’s really about – being able to offer a product that is accessible to everyone.”

The Rise Authentic Baking Co. is open seven days a week, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to their website. Check out the spring menu here. You can reach the bakery by phone at (616) 288-7969.

The classic baked goods are also available at wholesale locations in West Michigan. Van Liere said the bakery hopes to expand to grocery stores in Detroit and Lansing soon.

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