Baking has been a passion of mine ever since I was a little girl living in the Midwest. I loved helping my mother in the kitchen, baking desserts for my dad and three hungry older brothers. I grew up, went to nursing school and married a chemical engineer but still never lost the love of baking. We globe-trotted all over the country for my husband’s job, broadening our desire for good food, entertaining, and of course, baking desserts. Finally we landed in North Carolina in 1993 and absolutely knew this was where we wanted to put down roots and call this state our home. My husband and I loved the geographical location and the weather, but most of all the people of this region. I went to work for a surgery center in Charlotte, and as everyone knows, nurses and doctors love to eat. Just about every week I would bake a cake, cheesecake, or tart of some sort and take it to work for everyone to enjoy. Doctors and nurses started requesting desserts for birthdays and other special occasions. I tried hard to always come up with something new and unique for them. About this same time, in the year 1996, Dean and Deluca opened their first store in Charlotte and I started frequenting the store to purchase supplies and baking ingredients. A store clerk befriended me and asked what I did with all of the items she saw me purchasing every week. Responding, I explained my passion for baking and making desserts for my friends and family. She suggested that I talk with their bread baker who was looking for someone to fill their pastry case with desserts. I talked with him and landed a tasting with him and his general manager. The tasting went well but I seriously didn’t know whether I would hear back from him or not. Three days later he called and placed a huge order. I worked for three days and nights straight to complete it. Upon delivery, they inspected and loved everything stating they wanted the same order for the next day. I about fell over!
I went to work out of my tiny home kitchen with what I refer to as our Easy-Bake® oven and one 5 quart Kitchen Aid® mixer. In the beginning I made a lot of mistakes to which our friends and neighbors enjoyed, but also created a vast amount of great desserts. I also became a pastry information junkie, craving and seeking knowledge from books, seminars, other pastry chefs and food channels on television to further my baking repertoire.
A restaurant chain approached Dean and Deluca inquiring as to whom made their desserts. After one tasting we landed our first restaurant. I started growing our business one account at a time treating each as if they were our only account to exceed their expectation of our company and our desserts. I discovered two things in common with all of our accounts, everyone was disappointed with the current industry’s supply of desserts, and more interested in quality over cost. They knew that if they offered their clientele a quality product that they would pay for it, even demand it, and repeat sales soared. People were stating that our dessert presentation was fantastic but that the taste was even better, and could not get enough of them to which I was and continue to be very thankful.
I knew we had something, but it took us three years to convince a banker to lend us money to expand into a larger commercial bakery space. A while later my husband left his chemical engineering job to maintain the business end securing a new account then investing in new equipment, while I focused on product development, quality, and personnel. In 2000, just one year after moving into a 3000 square foot space, we acquired Harris Teeter, a large grocery chain, and were literally busting out of the doors. We then doubled our square footage only to find that we needed more. Finally, in 2006, we moved to our current state of the art facility of 30,000 square feet, this time purchasing the land and building the space to our specifications. We continue to serve throughout the entire southeast with several regional and national distributors supplying the food service industry. Our products can be found throughout the entire South East in grocery and gourmet food markets, restaurants, coffee houses, country clubs, hotels, convention centers, and distribution warehouses.
Along the way we have acquired some of the best employees anyone could imagine, going through at least 10 new hires to find the right combination of passion and quality. Our pastries are only as good as our employees and we try hard to hire only the best. To date we still make every cake, cheesecake, torte, tart, and brownie from scratch using only the finest ingredients available.
I have always said, “There is no way you can go wrong in producing great desserts when using the finest ingredients and having the best people making them.”
Founder, Queen City Pastry