Following the national success of Spread’Em Kitchen’s vegan dips and spreads, the Vancouver-based company is extending its product range with four new firm vegan cheeze flavours, made from a cashew and almond blend and fermented with live cultures so its good for the gut. We chatted with founder Mellisa Mills about her story of business growth in the plant-based industry—not to mention, her fave ways to enjoy Spread’Em firm cheeze! —Vita Daily
Hi Mellisa! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start!
I live in Vancouver with my partner and our little boy. I used to work 9-5 as a graphic designer, but now I spend my days making vegan dips and cheezes for my plant-based company Spread’Em Kitchen.
And what about Spread’Em Kitchen’s start? How/why did you ever get into vegan cheeze dips and spreads?
In 2014 I left my job as a graphic designer as I felt it was lacking purpose and connection, and I wanted to take some time to think about how I could do something that would affect people in a positive, meaningful way. I wanted to earn some extra money to go on a trip to South America, so I started making my homemade, vegan dips to sell at the local farmer’s market. I started out with just a $500 credit card limit and a cargo bike. I blended hundreds of dips in my little blender in my home kitchen and cut all my own labels and stuck them on with tape. I even picked up all my ingredients on my cargo bike because I didn’t own a car. I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback after my first farmer’s market. Since then, Spread’Em’s Kitchen has continued to grow and grow. It’s been so rewarding knowing that my little dips are helping contribute to a happier and healthier planet.
A lot of people still wonder, well, if you choose to be vegan/not to eat cheese, why create a substitute for it? What's your take on this?
We use the word cheeze as a point of reference on how to use the product, it helps shoppers understand tasting notes and gives them ideas on how to use the product. The essence of "cheese" is really a rich, creamy mouth feel with umami notes sustained by its fatty, saltiness which our brain recognizes as FLAVOUR TOWN! Plus we only use whole, natural ingredients that are lacto-fermented, so they are more vitamin and mineral rich, making them both good for your gut and the environment. Our product can be a substitute for cheese, sure, but it also stands alone as something new and delicious that's also good for you!
Are Spread’Em products just for vegans?
Absolutely not! The variety of flavours and styles appeal to everyone. With our dips and firm cheezes, my focus was on creating unique, rich flavours that people love—like dill and truffle or beet and balsamic. Cashew-based cheese also has a major positive effect on our planet, which I think is important to a lot of people. A cashew tree only requires rain water and can live for around 50 years, so they are much more sustainable than dairy cows!
What's new at Spread’Em Kitchen now?
We’ve just released our new line of Firm Cheezes, which is a vegan cheese-like product made from a cashew and almond blend with a crumbly texture. The cheeze is fermented with live cultures, is made from nothing but whole-food ingredients and is good for the gut. It comes in a variety of four flavours: the Classic (a chèvre -style cheeze), the Big Smoke (smoked gouda-style cheeze), the Meadow (a herb and garlic Boursin-style cheeze) and the Delight (an apricot and chilli Wensleydale-style cheeze). They are all perfect for snacking, pizzas and cheese boards! You can find them in Save-on-Foods, Whole Foods and selected retailers across B.C.
Which of the four new Firm Cheeze flavours is your fave, and why?
That’s such a hard choice as I love them all, but the Big Smoke would have to be my favourite. It has a super-rich flavour from being authentically smoked using real applewood. It’s perfect for topping your pizza to give it that wood fire oven-style finish.
Win! A Spread’Em Kitchen Prize Pack!
We have a winnerongratulations Joan W. of New Westminster, B.C., who won a Spread’Em Kitchen prize pack including all four flavours of the new firm cheezes!