It’s hard to believe that Naquasia “Nicole” Boyd’s baked goods are vegan. That was the general consensus at The Stagecoach Market, as customers tried them for the first time. Last Sunday, the vegan baker rolled out her fan favorite cookies, but she also introduced a handful of other delights.
Naquasia went to trade school in Manhattan for culinary arts, and began catering at the age of 18. She traveled and lived in both Japan and Italy, where she picked up her change in lifestyle habits.
In the end, it was her toffee (butter crunch) cookie that stole the show. Once I learned that it’s no easy feat to make a vegan version of this prized cookie, I decided to reach out to Naquasia to learn more about her approach to baking, and her vegan lifestyle.
How did you get started?
It started when I was living in Italy. While I was there, I experienced real food for the first time. It was a culture shock. The lady I lived with gathered eggs from the chicken coop, purchased her goods from mom ‘n’ pop stores, and grew her own food. It made me second guess everything. When I moved back home, I started a vlog, to share my cooking recipes. It’s also when I became a vegan. I started a meal prep service when I lived in NYC (she was born in Brooklyn, NY raised in Manhattan and the Bronx). Then I moved to Buffalo this past January. At the time, I found that I just couldn’t sew anymore (sewing was a hobby – her background is in clothing design), so I started baking instead, which led to the Studio Vegan Bakery.
What brought you to Buffalo?
School brought me – Buffalo Buffalo state for fashion textile design, fiber art, and merchandising.
How did you come up with the recipes for the products that you were baking and selling?
I went to LA to research the vegan bakeries that I had heard of. I started making the classics, but soon found that there were so many cookies and other baked goods that weren’t vegan, but could be vegan. That’s when I came up with the idea for a sample pack of 25 different vegan cookies. People loved that I offering the different varieties, along with the classics. For the toffee (butter crunch) cookie I had to make my own vegan toffee, and it really works! People have been going crazy for it! The cookie world is so massive – I love to keep people guessing.
What are some of your other specialties?
Vegan wedding cakes. I have a background in textile design. I figured that I would go from wedding gowns to wedding cakes [laughing]. I really like to bake naked cakes, without all of the frills, which hide the beauty of the cake. I like to stretch the limits of vegan baking. You can make anything vegan – there are so many untapped ingredients in the plant based world. Last year I made vegan macaroons. People thought that they couldn’t exist, but they do.
You are a vegan for the health benefits and the planet, but also because you love animals. Do you have a pet?
I have a dog.
What’s its name?
Aside from baking, you have a passion for gardening, right?
Yes, I love urban gardening. Since I became a vegan, I moved to different places each year in search of more space to grow food. I grow as much as I can. It’s important to have access to growing food – there’s an instant relationship with the food. People are so busy these days that they’ve lost that connection. Right now I’m growing 200+ plants (fruits, vegetables, and herbs) in Downtown Buffalo. I have created all of this space, along with a breakfast nook.
You feel that it’s important to source as many things as possible locally?
Being a localvore is important. The nutritional value of food is depleted the farther the food comes from. How many miles does it take to get on your plate? There’s nothing better that growing a zucchini from seed, and then cooking it. Not only do I grow my own food, I pickle and jar foods. Same with juices. It’s amazing to go back and eat or drink something that you made months (or even years) ago – it tastes just as good as when you first made it.
What’s up next on your plate?
Once I’ve achieved everything that’s on my bucket list, I want to teach people how to do all of this on their own. Whether it’s baking, or the urban garden to table. I don’t go to the supermarket anymore. It’s important that people learn how to source their own healthy foods, that they grow and make. I never thought that I would be a baker, let alone being a vegan baker. My mom has a background in culinary arts. I’ve been cooking for a very long time. I feel that I want to share what I’ve learned with other people. I do that with my vlog right now.
Where do you sell your products?
I’m at the Bidwell Market on Saturdays, the Stagecoach Market on some Sundays (including tomorrow), on my website, etsy, and I might end up doing one more market. I just ordered a larger mixer to accommodate the growth.
Be kind to your customers, and give them more than what they ask for.
Follow Naquasia as she shares her passion for vegan food…
www.studiovegans.com (website | cooking classes | personal chef experience)