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How a New Orleans Pastry Chef Found Her Calling for Surrealist Cakes


Bronwen Wyatt bakes and decorates alone in the studio-like kitchen of a small Bywater building, a large, commercial fan pointing to the old wooden table where her cake canvas rests. She tries to keep the spacious kitchen relatively cool—no easy feat during the New Orleans summer—so she can successfully decorate cakes for her booming pandemic-borne business, bayou st cake.

Like many cooks and bakers who started businesses during the pandemic, Wyatt turned to home baking after losing his job as a pastry chef for a top local restaurant. “I wish I could say it was really well thought out,” Wyatt says. “I didn’t have a vision board. I just knew I needed to bring in money somehow, and I started taking some special orders, and then more and more.”

Randy Schmidt / Eater NOLA

Along the way, the self-described “goth baker” has helped found and nurtured a community online and with other local, home businesses. She has also become more familiar with the queer-owned business community of New Orleans, which she describes as small but growing. “My exposure and connections to queer-owned businesses in New Orleans definitely increased because of the pandemic,” Wyatt says. The growth is partly due, she says, to the fact that she didn’t come out until her 30s. “I was missing some of those connections until recently.”

Finding your community—both online and in real life—has allowed Wyatt to turn Bayou St. Cakes into a successful local business. Her following also points to an obsessive corner of the internet known as “cake Instagram”. where he is famous for his “squiggles” Ruffles of buttercream frosting top many of her organic, small-batch layer cakes. You know you’ve arrived on Cake Instagram from a food photography rabbit hole where you find a mesmerizing world of ready-to-eat cake creations. It’s a post-fondant world, to be sure – taste comes first, and the designs are expressive, dramatic, even imperfect.

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Zucchini Cake with Cardamom Louisiana Blueberry, Chicory Buttercream, and Chicory Caramel
bayou st cake

Although Wyatt graduated from Tulane University with a degree in visual arts, he is quick to characterize his cake-making as a craft rather than an art (though some may disagree). “There’s a real crafting element that makes everything fit and work together,” says Wyatt. “I don’t know if I’d call it an art, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be.” After graduating Tulane in 2005, she worked in the culinary world of Maine and San Francisco after returning to New Orleans four years later. She has since oversees pastry programs at some of New Orleans’ most acclaimed restaurants, including La Petite Grocery, bed, Villa Jean, and more recently for Hotspot lewdness and its sister restaurant, Trendy Elysian Borough.

After losing his job during the pandemic, Wyatt found himself inspired by Cake Instagram, both in terms of community support, as well as by specific accounts like the Korea-based cake maker. delicious cake. “I was using all these flowy, swoosh-y flowers on my cakes, but I loved the playful aesthetic I saw on these accounts. They helped me grow into myself,” she says. It wasn’t until I started developing a more personal style that things really took off.”

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Randy Schmidt / Eater NOLA

The squiggle above was born from a custom cake request that included a plastic chicken nugget Happy Meal figurine—the squiggle was Wyatt’s decorative interpretation of the chicken nugget shape. From there, she gained a following for her surrealist, whimsical designs—sometimes incorporating squiggles, sometimes not—as well as her ingredients. Recent examples include zucchini and benne seed cake with burnt honey buttercream; Olive Oil Chiffon Cake with Blueberry and Elderflower Preserve, Fig Leaf Custard, and Creme Frache Buttercream; and Chocolate and Rye Cake with Chocolate Coriander Mousse, Salted Caramel, and Chicory Buttercream. Along with many other pandemic-borne home baker and pop-up operations, Wyatt created some The Most Iconic, Unexpected King Cake of Mardi Gras 2021.

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Randy Schmidt / Eater NOLA

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Randy Schmidt / Eater NOLA


The role of the online community in her Beau Saint cake journey has been almost as important as finding her signature cake designs. “We hear a lot about how social media is this toxic cesspool, but all I found was all these people on social media who I was going through the same small-business struggle with,” says Wyatt. “I was able to connect with people from all over the country and the world and share stories and challenges. Getting out of all this has been the best thing ever.”

Wyatt sometimes shares his story She creates comics and posts on Instagram, original illustration containing elements of the Bayou Saint Cake logo, designed by New Orleans artist Ashley Arsinaux Jones (also known by this name). small chalk) She shares photos of her creations, of course, and her height, like making a queer elopement cake, Wyatt’s “favourite thing about 2020.” His online community has been particularly important during times of creative lows—those moments often tied to burnout—but also in mobilizing his real-life community of neighbors, friends, and family in support of a cause, of which there has been no shortage in the past. It’s been 16 months.

“A big thing for me over the past year has been learning more about mutual aid. I know I have a lot of inherent privileges and comforts, so it’s time for me to think about distributing any additional resources to the community. And it’s important to focus on supporting the organizations that do that work,” Wyatt says. he is Organizing Instagram Cake Raffles for Profit mutual aid group in new orleans Southern Solidarity and Imagine Water Works, a local queer-led community group, and is directed a portion of the profits From sale to a fund Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, Red Canary Song, and others.

Wyatt knows that the creation of Bayou Saint Cake, despite being technically a one-woman show, has everything to do with the support of her community. This is the reason why she remains fearless even when she is challenging. “I definitely want to keep it up,” Wyatt says. “Even when I’m overwhelmed, I still enjoy work. I’m growing new parts of my brain, learning about bookkeeping, customer service, marketing. The near future This is my life for me, and I’m very excited about it.”

As a promise of more good things to come, he married his wife a few months ago in a small backyard affair. She can now offer this firm advice to her peers online and in real life: No matter what your skills, don’t be in charge of your own wedding cake. “I promise, you’ll drink champagne and hang out with your friends and family,” she says.

You can order Bayou St. Cake through the Bayou St. Cake Minimart for weekly Thursday, Friday and Saturday pickup in July Website. For custom cake inquiries directly email Wyatt at bayousaintcake@gmail.com, and follow Bayou St. Cakes instagram Cake, Pie and Cookie for flash sale.

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Randy Schmidt / Eater NOLA





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