The Angry Baker’s closing last summer in Olde Towne East was a tough blow to fans of its delicious plant-based fare. But late last year, paper went up over the windows at 891 Oak St., signaling the promise of a new restaurant. The Angry Baker’s replacement, a vegan venture called Lifestyle Café, opened last weekend, serving a menu of pastries, chik'n and gluten-free waffles, sliders, kale salad and more. Leading the kitchen is Shanna Dean, a personal chef, caterer and graduate of the culinary arts program at Columbus’ Bradford School. Columbus Monthly reached chef Dean via email to learn more about how the vegan café came to life and what inspires her cooking. Lifestyle Café’s hours are 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Can you describe a food memory from your childhood?
I remember telling my grandmother that I didn't want her to put egg in the mac and cheese LOL. I didn't know then, but I was already interested in food on a creative level.
When did you know you wanted a career in the kitchen and how did you go about making that happen?
Once I got serious about eating healthy, my culinary skills were really tested. I have always loved hosting small gatherings and cooking something special for people, but now I wanted the special thing to be healthy, too. So I went to culinary school to learn trade secrets that would help me make healthier food taste GOOD.
How did the idea for Lifestyle Cafe come about?
[Lifestyle Café co-owner] Dawn Dickson and I were talking about food, as usual, and how the healthy options in Columbus lacked the taste and texture you find in other cities like Atlanta, LA and Seattle. She said, “Shanna, I have traveled the world and tasted vegan food, and your food is amazing. If you want to open a restaurant, I'm in!” I thought for a couple days, a little terrified of the idea. But I listened to my heart and my source and said, “Let's do it.” Eight weeks later, we were closing on the former Angry Baker property.
What drew you to Olde Towne East and the former Angry Baker space in particular?
I have lived in the area for some time. I frequented the previous café because there was a lack of vegan options. We are basically in a food desert for vegetarian fare anyway. Angry Baker was always packed, so we figured we need to bring that option back to the neighborhood.
What are some of your favorite menu items at Lifestyle Café?
That's tough, because I have been making this food for some time now, and I really like a lot of things. The corn chowder is dear to me because it is so clean and so delicious, too. My goal is for someone to visit Lifestyle Café who is gluten-free, plant-based and/or soy-free and totally be satisfied. I worked really hard developing the waffle for the chick'n and waffle, so it's near to my heart as well. I wanted to make a waffle that didn't seem gluten-free but was.
Who or what inspires you in the food world?
The food companies basically pumping poison into millions of human beings. They are my motivation to make delicious, clean food.
Where do you love to go when you’re not at your own restaurant?
In no order: Willowbeez SoulVeg, Alchemy, Woodhouse Vegan Café, Nile Vegan, Northstar Café and fine dining anywhere!