San Francisco sourdough gained a valuable player when Rize Up Bakery came onto the scene in 2020. Azikiwee Anderson started making bread out of his backyard during the height of the pandemic, mainly as a Covid quarantine hobby and coping mechanism after the murder of George Floyd. Two years later, he’s created a flourishing online operation with some of the most unique bread in the city. But what truly makes Rize Up Bakery special is its commitment to uplifting local communities and quite literally “breaking bread” with them.
Not your average sourdough
Scroll though Rize Up’s Instagram and you’ll see Anderson’s creativity come through in every photo. Perhaps the most eye-catching is the ube loaf (purple Filipino yam), which is a vibrant bright purple color; followed by the Hella Black loaf, a deep black sourdough loaf encrusted with black sesame.
Other popular flavors include Garlic Confit Thyme “to keep the vampires away;” the K-Pop Loaf with Gochujang, toasted sesame, roasted garlic and fresh scallions; and the brand-new Masala loaf, with onion, turmeric, cumin, curry leaves, cilantro, serrano and roasted jalapeño peppers. And of course, it’s always a good call to grab the OG (“Original Gangster”), your tried-and-true traditional plain sourdough.
These artisanal sourdough creations will run you between $12-18 apiece, but there are subscription boxes available, as well as a “Pay it Forward” option, where you can buy a discounted loaf for someone in need. Rize Up continues to operate as an online bakery with various pick-up locations around the Bay Area.
How Rize Up came to be
Azikiwee Anderson started baking sourdough bread in the spring of 2020 following the rise of Covid and the murder of George Floyd. “I had so many emotions and needed an outlet while stuck at home,” Anderson told us. “I started making sourdough starter and bread just as a social connection and – much to my surprise – found an emotional outlet in sourdough bread that gave me what I needed at a very crucial time.”
Anderson started gifting loaves of bread to his friends and neighbors, and as word got out, people began paying him for the loaves. “I baked so much in my home oven that it started to tear itself apart,” he told us. “…and so I bought ovens that sat on my back porch… I went from being able to do four [loaves] at a time to 24 every hour.” When a food writer from the Chronicle wrote about Anderson’s sourdough in October 2020, orders went through the roof and Rize Up truly took off.
The “Rize Up” name was inspired by the song “My Shot” from Hamilton, which happened to be playing when Anderson opened the oven to discover his first perfectly-risen loaf: “Rise up / When you’re living on your knees you rise up!” Anderson’s nickname is “Z” so the spelling “Rize Up Bakery” was a natural choice, and the name solidified its role as “a bakery born out of true social unrest.”
Rize Up and the community
Of course, Rize Up Bakery’s amazing sourdough bread is perhaps just the tip of the iceberg – Anderson also hopes to connect customers with the sentiment behind the bread. “I hope to inspire people to see bread as the center piece of an experience- not as filler or an afterthought,” he told us.
Customers can participate in the Rize Up community using the “Pay it Forward” option on the website, where you can buy a discounted loaf for someone in need. “I get the fact that my bread is expensive, but I also donate that exact same bread to homeless shelters,” said Anderson. “I don’t cut the corners, I don’t use the cheaper stuff. I make beautiful bread and I donate it because I feel like that’s what people should eat. So there’s more to it than just a business.”
Anderson regularly delivers the “Pay It Forward” loaves to local homeless shelters in the community. Having experienced poverty himself as a child, he considers it a natural responsibility. “I just ask people if they wanna make a difference with me, I’ll be their stand-in. I’ll help. I’ll make it easy because not everybody is cut out to do what needs to get done… if all you can do is put in $5, $10 to help somebody feed one person, it actually does make a difference.”
Try it for yourself!
We know San Franciscans love their sourdough, and Rize Up Bakery is the real deal. Be sure to order some for yourself at RizeUpSourdough.com, and follow @rizeupbakery on Instagram for all the latest flavors.
Rize Up Bakery does not currently have a brick-and-mortar store, but the bread is available for pick-up in the Bay Area and delivery throughout the United States.
Featured image: @rizeupbakery via Instagram