Two Dumb Vegans
Historic Farmers’ Market, 1496 Lower Water Street
When Michael Grove and Kerry Sharp begin the baking process for their bigger-than-your-hand, quadruple-layered cinnamon rolls, a sort of routine settles in: Singing (lots of it), cinnamon-dousing (even more of it) and layering up rectangles of buttery-yet-butter-free dough. “We found ourselves harmonizing all time, singing Weird Al B-sides, Disney songs. We do “‘A Whole New World’ a lot,” Grove says as Sharp laughs.
The partners in life and baking sell their dairy-free cinnamon rolls—and other treats—under the name Two Dumb Vegans at the Historic Brewery Market and, occasionally, the Halifax Forum Farmer’s Market. “Once upon a time at the original Historic Market, there was an almost cult-like following for Mary’s Bread Basket cinnamon rolls. I’ll be the first to admit that when I was young I was in that lineup, which was 20 people long, just to get this mythical cinnamon roll. And it was great. And then Mary’s Bread Basket closed. My whole market experience was based around the cinnamon roll so I set out not to replicate it, but to fill that void,” Grove offers. “I took a really long time developing the recipe, reworking it until I had an incredible cinnamon roll that just happened to be vegan.”
The pair originally met when Sharp got a job at Grove’s now-shuttered Quinpool Road restaurant Red Lunchbox. Though the plant-based eatery didn't last long (its doors were open from February to April of this year), the spark between Sharp and Grove did.
“It was just like, ‘Well that’s it, we can’t run a restaurant so now we’re just two dumb vegans forging forward’,” Grove says. While their visions of the future include launching a subscription service of simple, meat-and-dairy free meals, for now it’s all about the cinnamon rolls.
“I grew up in a quasi-Jewish household where challah was a big deal, and I used to live across the street from a Hong Kong bakery, so something in me wanted to make something with the texture of like a steam bun but the rich, almost umami-ness of egg bread,” Grove says of the pair’s signature roll. “But also a big part of it, too, is the cinnamon,” Sharp adds, estimating that each layer of the four-layer rolls uses at least a quarter cup of cinnamon. (Grove guesses it’s higher.)
Maybe the most special part of all, though, is the eating. Grove says it’s “turned into a huge community. It’s almost like a church, honestly, in that it’s a wonderful community of people that just sit and drink coffee together and eat cinnamon rolls and everyone knows everyone’s name.”