Featured photo: Taylor Dankovich and Kyle Grimsley started Claude’s Vegan Castle to offer home-cooked options for vegans in Greensboro. (courtesy photo)
Making food for others is Taylor Dankovich’s love language.
It all started when Dankovich started cooking meals for her father, a hedge fund manager who decided to become vegan.
“He’s a very busy person and I wanted to help out to make sure that he had good meals to eat,” Dankovich explains. “There’s this kind of perception with vegan food that it’s too complicated or that it’s just tofu or potatoes or something like that. But there’s so much that can be done on the vegan spectrum of food.”
The full-time personal chef and her partner, Kyle Grimsley, are now the co-owners of Claude’s Vegan Castle, a new plant-based food business in Greensboro.
While Dankovich has been creating 14 meals a week for her father for the past several months, Grimsley brings his history of foodservice to the business. After moving to Greensboro from south Florida in 2016 he began working at Scrambled, where he managed the kitchen for a few years in between working at the Iron Hen, the now-closed Traveled Farmer and M’Coul’s Public House. When the pandemic hit and the hours became unsustainable, Grimsley took a full-time job working from home, giving him and Dankovich the flexibility to start their own business. Now the two are making a name for themselves as one of the few plant-based food businesses in the Triad.
It’s a well-known fact that despite being the third-largest city in the state, Greensboro is lacking when it comes to vegan options. Boba House on Tate Street was one of the only vegetarian spots in town for years until places like Mike’s Vegan Cookout and Dragon City in High Point opened. And even when looking at the Triad as a whole, it wasn’t until recently when Dom’s opened in Winston-Salem that a fully vegan restaurant materialized. And that’s a huge reason why Dankovich and Grimsley started their food stall, which has been a part of the Saturday Corner Farmer’s Market since early October.
“There’s really not a lot of places in Greensboro,” Dankovich says. “So, we thought, Why don’t we do something that’s good for us as a couple to do together and good for the community and kind of fill that void?”
Grimsley acts as the financial manager and prep cook while Dankovich creates the menu and does the bulk of the cooking. They started with two items for their stall — their wildly popular chickpea salad wrap and chorizo bowls. Now, they sell everything from vegan muffins and doughnuts to chili to savory pastries.
While they’re not vegan, Grimsely explained how he had been vegetarian for a few months and noticed how good he felt after not eating meat for weeks.
“I used to eat a lot of meat,” he says. “That used to be most of my diet. I would get bad acne and I would be sweaty and I felt greasy all the time.”
Now the two are mostly plant-based at home with the occasional sushi splurge thrown in. The goal, Dankovich explains, is to offer delicious vegan food that anyone can enjoy. And it’s not just about feeding people for her. As someone who identifies as queer and lives with OCD and anxiety, she says it’s about creating space for marginalized people.
“The main reason that I’m so passionate about vegan cooking is because my main goal, basically in life, is to always do what I can to provide a service or a space for people who don’t often get recognized or aren’t really catered to,” she says. “My main goal is, how can I make other people feel seen and cared for and included?”
And as the holidays come around, that means providing plant-based options for people to easily heat up and make at home. For the next two markets, Claude’s Vegan Castle will be offering vegan lasagnas made with tofu ricotta and vegan turkey loaves made with seitan. Each serves anywhere from four to eight people and can be easily heated up at home. In the future, they hope to add frozen meals to their lineup and they might even start their own catering business if the demand is there. They recently started making most of their products gluten-free and endeavor to have a nut-free commercial kitchen one day.
And even though the products are catered towards vegan customers, Dankovich and Grimsley say that their food is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. They hope their products prompt people to think more deeply about what they eat and about how a plant-based lifestyle can foster sustainability and care for their community.
“Food is part of self-care,” Dankovich says. “You need to eat.”
“And what you eat matters,” Grimsley adds.
“So, with everything I give to people, I’m like, in my head, ‘I love you,’” Dankovich says. “I want to care for people in that way.”
Visit Claude’s Vegan Castle at the Corner Farmer’s Market in Greensboro. To place orders for the holidays, visit the stall this Saturday or send them a message on Instagram @claudesvegancastle.
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