Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Battle Creek series.
Paul Vugteveen’s beliefs are among the ingredients he puts into all of the food he prepares and serves through OPEN Vegan Eats, the Battle Creek catering business he co-owns with Lindsey Palar.
Vugteveen operates out of an incubator kitchen at Sprout BC in Springfield. In this space he creates food with the intention of making it affordable, accessible, and inclusive. He’s giving the community an opportunity to taste some of his locally sourced, made-from-scratch food at a Pop-up Patisserie that is scheduled to happen at Sprout BC on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays beginning March 2.
“This is a way for us to showcase our food and interact with customers so people can get to know us and taste our food,” Vugteveen says. “I sell my food as a high-quality food product that’s also vegan so it’s more accessible to more people. I really want to get people to understand that the level of the quality of the food I provide is as high as possible.”
The menu at the Pop-up Patisserie will change from week to week. Vugteveen says offerings will likely include savory and sweet hand pies and croissants.
His catering menu includes a handmade vegan cheese platter, lasagna, hearty vegetable dishes, salads, sandwiches, and soups.
Vugteveen makes his own soy milk, nut milk, and cashew butter, among other items. He says this allows him to control the quality without the food additives commonly found in prepared foods.
“I’ve been working with Sprout for three years,” Vugteveen says. “The reason I worked with them at that time and now is their commitment to sourcing local produce and their involvement around issues of food access.”
In addition to operating his catering business out of the Sprout kitchens, Vugteveen helps with the running of the kitchen and serves as a resource for other entrepreneurs who are looking for advice in areas such as dealing with a health department.
Prior to finding a home with Sprout, Vugteveen worked as the chef at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings. While there he moved the food service program into a more environmentally friendly area and began using less meats and animal proteins with an emphasis on vegan food offerings.
He left that job 18 months ago to focus on the creation of food that would reflect his values. “It wasn’t exclusively vegan or vegetarian, but I did create more robust offerings in regards to vegan food,” he says.
For him, there was no formal training at a culinary institute, but rather a hands-on education that began in scratch kitchens in Holland and Detroit. He says he considers it a benefit to never have relied on prepared foods.
“I’ve never been to culinary school and I feel like that’s been beneficial for me because I have been able to think outside of the traditional ways of doing things,” Vugteveen says.
To get more information about Vugteveen’s business and Pop-up click here