In this article, I share my conversation with Becky Morris, founder of Celebrated vegan bakery.
Becky Morris believes in indulging in delicious, cruelty-free desserts as a way to bring more joy to life. Regardless of who we are, where we come from, or what our dietary restrictions may be, Becky thinks that tasting phenomenal treats can be a way to celebrate each individual. Her philosophy on food combined with her passion for baking to inspire Becky to found an operate Celebrated, an award-winning custom-order plant-based dessert shop in Providence, Rhode Island. I spoke with Becky for a recent article on HappyCow to learn more about her journey to creating a successfully scrumptious vegan baking business.
Although Becky didn’t always know that she’d become a baker, she has loved baking for as long as she can remember. She recalls, “I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and I’ve been baking for years… I started back in my childhood, watching my mom bake over the holidays. It was part of the entertainment process of having people over, we were always surrounded by lots of yummy foods and dessert.”
After college, Becky began working part-time in a local bakery in Providence. From her first taste of the baking business, she grew hungry for more. She explains, “I wanted to really pursue baking. It was a passion, but I wanted to turn it into a career. I convinced the owner (of the local bakery) to let me come in after hours and he was all for it, and that’s how I got my in.”
By putting in after-hours work at the bakery, she had a prime opportunity to experiment with new recipes and gain an edge in the craft. Eventually, Becky’s reputation as a baker began to circulate among her loved ones, and they started requesting her tasty treats for celebrations. She says, “For 3 years, I was doing catering orders all for friends and family and through word of mouth. I did a lot of birthday cakes and small orders here and there. I would always bake for friends when I hosted and had people over. And people started saying, ‘Why aren’t you selling your cookies?’”
The support of her family and friends provided ample confidence for Becky to feel ready to scale up to working in her own commercial kitchen. However, Becky’s baking approach was challenged when she visited a farm sanctuary. After gaining an understanding of the suffering that animals face in factory farming, Becky transitioned to veganism. Not long after, she started to rethink the ethics of the staples in her baking. She explains, “I started to question ‘Why are eggs in my product?’, and that’s when I flipped the switched and transitioned to baking full vegan.”
Suddenly, all the recipes that Becky had mastered were called into question with her new approach to eating. She recalls, “(The biggest challenge was in) some of the substitutions I had to make, taking my recipes, tweaking them, and making them taste just as good as a vegan version while using flax eggs or other egg substitutes or using soy milk or other plant-based milks.”
Moreover, Becky faced the challenge of responding to her loyal customers, many of whom may have had preconceived ideas about the taste of vegan baked goods. Becky explains, “I just really went after the quality of (my baked goods) so that people couldn’t tell the difference, and they didn’t. So the biggest challenge was convincing other people that it was going to taste just as good.”
Over time, the taste of Becky’s vegan products began to surpass that of traditional baked goods. This victory in quality was reaffirmed by Celebrated’s recent first-prize award for their vegan chocolate chip cookies in the Rhode Island Spectacular Cookie Smackdown. These gooey, melt-in-your-mouth cookies received this award through a blind tasting. After their identity was revealed, the judges were in disbelief to learn that vegan cookies could taste so buttery and delicious.
Becky has also caught attention as the only vendor in New England to master the vegan French macaron, which took 6 months of labor to perfect. She recounts, “There were a lot of failures mixed in there and nights where I would just lose entire batches of products. But it was the persistence over time, the practice to master feeling everything out, making everything work in my favor.”
With time and persistence, she learned the trick to creating a delicate, crisp vegan macaron shell. She says, “The challenge is in replacing the eggs, we use aquafaba, the chickpea brine. It’s so magical, you whip it up, and it has the same texture as a meringue.”
In the future, Becky envisions veganizing more French-inspired desserts, like perfectly flakey croissants. She also hopes to perfect vegan donuts, create upscale platted vegan desserts, and launch her cookie dough into wholesale first regionally, then nationwide. Yet beyond the specific dessert products, Becky has a larger vision for Celebrated’s impact. She explains, “On a grander scale, I would love to continue to grow the business and open up the conversation with people on vegan desserts, what they truly mean, what they taste like, and on the benefits of being vegan and really celebrating all-around this lifestyle that advocates for sustainability.”
Most importantly, she aspires to live out the mission of her bakery by making each customer feel supremely celebrated with each item they savor. She says, “Of course, I want (my customers) to takeaway knowing that vegan desserts are delicious, but to me, I’d like to them to feel celebrated as individuals… I hope that they feel that they’re celebrated, no matter how they choose to live their lives, who they choose to love, who they are, who they want to be.”