The word “vegan” can conjure up images of bowls of lettuce, cardboard-like loaves of bread and anemic hippies sporting tie-dyed shirts, but one glance at and taste of Calina Damiani’s baked goodies will have even sworn carnivores waiting for their next fix.
Damiani is the baker and owner of Hope’s Vegan Kitchen, a pop-up bakery selling delicious desserts at events and farmers markets around the Twin Cities.
Being a vegan can be a challenge, and Damiani has met it. She’s a successful vegan baker, runs her own business and makes sure others who live a plant-based lifestyle can still enjoy sweet treats.
Damiani has a cottage food license, which allows people to produce and sell food items as long as they are considered non-potentially hazardous food. This category typically includes baked goods since they are drier and contain more sugar and salt, both of which prevent the quick and easy growth of bacteria.
“My dream is to open a brick-and-mortar in Minneapolis one day so I can reach a larger segment of the community,” says Damiani.
Damiani has been an avid baker since she was young, and her love for creating with flour and sugar continued to grow. Things became a bit challenging when she decided to make the switch to being vegan. This lifestyle change came with the desire to be more conscious about the environment and her own personal health.
Like many vegans, Damiani found it was not easy to find completely plant-based bakery items, like cookies, that were as yummy as the ones she once enjoyed. She began the quest to make a chocolate chunk cookie that satisfied those cravings.
Her mission to create a delicious vegan chocolate chip cookie evolved into a career.
Incorporating her middle name into the title of her new venture, Hope’s Vegan Kitchen was created in December 2018.
Damiani only took online orders at first, until she began participating in farmers markets like Linden Hills, selling to local plant-based restaurants like J. Selby’s and The Herbivorous Butcher and local events such as Twin Cities Veg Fest and Vegan Invasion.
Damiani’s offerings include muffins and galettes made with seasonal fruit. She plans on expanding her menu soon to include a savory take on her croissants, which will likely be a ham-and-cheese-flavor version.
Her almond and chocolate croissants and her morning buns are the items that get the most attention, but her personal favorite remains the chocolate chunk cookies that started it all.
“Everything is 100 percent vegan but can be enjoyed by anyone whether they are vegan or not. My customers include vegans, vegetarians, people with allergies and people who just love baked goods,” says Damiani.
“I have a passion for the art of baking, and I love seeing other people enjoy the items I make. I have always wanted to start my own business and am so thankful for the great response I’ve received so far,” says Damiani.