by Bri Kilroy • photography by Two Eagles Marcus
The arrival of food trucks appearing at community events and farmers markets encourages life’s unpredictability to work in our favor by supplying us with a menu of new tastes. The spontaneity in an otherwise average day is cause for celebration and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious cake from the eye-catching, yellow food truck known as the K Gourmet Bake Shoppe?
K Gourmet began as a catering company 14 years ago when founder and namesake for the “K,” Koshie Lamptey, discovered a way to share her love and expertise of food with others. Lamptey’s catered creations served as the spread for all sorts of events, from parties to independent film screenings. As dynamic as her clientele were when it comes to Lamptey’s delicate and savory cakes, everyone has a hungry palate.
“We’re just two people doing something we love to do … food makes people happy, and I like making people happy.”
The little cakes sit preciously in their individual packaging that accommodates their small bundt pan shape, but size does not betray the amount of flavor each cake harnesses. The melt-in-your-mouth texture alone is enough to cause an inner dispute between sharing the dessert with a worthy friend and keeping the whole thing for yourself. What brings these little cakes to game-changing status is the liqueur infusion that takes place during their creation.
“[It started when] someone gave me a bit of rum cake to critique,” Lamptey said about her decision to introduce flavored spirits to her cakes. Her relaxed energy radiates the effects that doing something she loves for a living has on her demeanor. “I like to reverse-engineer the things I try,” she continued. “I tasted it and asked myself how I could improve it.”
Lamptey made rum cakes of her own and tested their popularity by selling them at local farmers markets. They sold well enough to show that Lamptey had an unmatchable talent for baking, but success didn’t dismiss Lamptey’s continuous curiosity on how she could take her desserts to the next level. Connecting the positive responses to her rum cakes and the fact that the majority of sweet teeth like chocolate cakes, Lamptey made a chocolate rum cake titled “Black Magic.”
More experiments brought more cakes and Bahama Mama, a cake made with liqueur-infused pineapples and coconuts, followed Black Magic soon after. A third favorite, Apple Sauced, ignites the flavors of fall in mélange of apples soaked in an apple pie liqueur “until they can’t walk a straight line,” Lamptey said. “I just love to make people happy, even if it’s just a little treat.”
Megan Seelye, K Gourmet’s co-founder and finance manager, can attest to Lamptey’s drive to satisfy people over becoming financially rich off her heavenly cakes. When asked her job title, Seelye innately responded, “I’m the one that says ‘No, we can’t buy that.’”
Seelye was working for a food manufacturer when she met Lamptey seven years ago through friends. Their combined passion for great food led them to co-found and launch the K Gourmet Bake Shoppe food truck this year, purchasing the truck from a dealership and customizing it to be the bright and cheery trailer you can visit at the Ada or Kentwood Farmers Market. Behind the counter, Koshie serves as Baker Extraordinaire (a professional title suggested to her by Seelye during our interview) and Seelye manages the finances and steps in as treat tester when the delectable flavors need additional confirmation.
“We put a lot of thought into what [the food truck] was going to look like, but for the sake of time and cost effectiveness, we just made it simple and bright,” Seelye said while the two made decisions on what product they would sell and the most efficient way for two people to work inside the truck. “With her catering background, Koshie wanted to make all sorts of foods, but we settled on desserts because of the size constraints of the little food truck.”
To the fortune of every past, present and future customer, the liqueur-infused cakes became K Gourmet’s main product along with its hand-packaged cinnamon roasted pecans and almonds that have a zesty, meringue crunch to them. After a year of formatting and preparing the truck for public exposure, Lamptey and Seelye tested it out at 2016’s Local First Street Party.
“It was the first time we were out in the truck, and we learned a lot,” Seelye said. “We could step outside and see that the truck could use a few more details and got ideas on how to make things flow easier.”
Lamptey agrees the truck is a work in progress, but likes that its vibe reflects her and Seelye’s personalities. “Maybe we’ll add a mural,” she pondered.
The possibilities that the two women imagine for the truck are just as exciting as the possibilities the future holds for K Gourmet’s products (Lamptey is currently working on perfecting a red velvet cake, experimenting with different liqueurs that replicate cream cheese frosting).
Making its cinnamon roasted almonds and pecans available at local grocery stores, like G.B. Russo’s on 29th Street, unleashes K Gourmet’s tastiness from the limitations of standard food truck hours. As the team works on expanding their product to more stores in the community, Lamptey is experimenting with an infinite number of flavor combinations for cookies (green tea and lemon, dried cherries and vanilla shortbread) and scones (orange cranberry, cinnamon, coffee) that are groundbreaking to the taste.
It may have felt like an ordinary day when you started reading this, but it’s now time to answer the cravings that manifested from this introduction to K Gourmet as it wheels into the trending food truck scene. Visit the truck at the Ada Farmers Market (Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) or the Kentwood Farmers Market (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.) and treat yourself with a sweet cake, cookie, scone or roasted nut from its even sweeter owners.
Stay updated on the mobile bake shop’s locations at K Gourmet Bake Shoppe’s Facebook page and visit KGourmetBakeShoppe.com, where you can at least feast your eyes on these “delectable edibles” while you wait for their next appearance.
Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.