5 Things I Learned from Joy the Baker
Earlier this month, I attended the first ever Black Food Blogger retreat in the incomparable city of New Orleans. This marked the second time I’ve ever been there. I went with an open mind to learn new skills and meet other creatives with a passion for food. I got all of this, and much more than I expected. I got a number of tips and resources to add to my toolbox. I soaked up new inspiration that I hadn’t had in some time. I met new personalities, some of whom I had only known from my IG feed.
Joy the Baker was one of those personalities. No, she wasn’t one of the retreat attendees, but my fellow retreaters and I got the chance to attend her Drake on Cake workshop. I don’t recall the moment when I started following Joy on the IG. I’m sure it was when I went on a following spree of any thing related to baking. Like I’m sure so many of ya’ll do, I’ve drooled over her picturesque, sugar and savory creations. To go from that to walking up the steps and through the front door of her home studio, I was in awe.
Her home screamed like it was a place to create. I loved the open layout that consisted of a dining room, kitchen, and entertaining area all in one. There were three things that stood out to me. On the wall near her dining room table was a wall gallery of mostly various fine art pieces. I loved the windows that allowed for natural lighting to come into the space from all angles. Then there were the stacks of books spread out across the room on shelves, coffee table, and bookshelf. I always check out the library when I visit someone’s home. I feel it gives me some insight into the person, and, that’s just what book nerds do, anyway.
During our visit, Joy made us Cacio e pepe beignets (aka parmesan and black pepper), and showed us how she decorates, styles, and photographs her Drake on Cake creations. Conversations about her experience as a baker and blogger, the business of blogging, tips, and other topics filled the time as Drake played on the speakers in the background. Here are my top 5 takeaways after spending an afternoon with Joy:
She is humble and personable – As Joy prepped the topping for the beignets (“get into it”, she told us), grinding black pepper into a pile of grated Parmesan cheese, and mixing it together with a dough cutter / scrapper, she told us that she was testing the recipe and wasn’t sure how they would turn out. I appreciated that she was candid with us. It also stood out when she told us, in dealing with social media, to not care about the bad things people say about you, and don’t let the good things people say go to your head, too.
She does her own photography – From the quality of her pictures, I figured that Joy had a professional photographer. She told us that there are times she does have a photographer come to the Bakehouse, but for the most part, she takes her own photos with her iPhone. Which brings me to my next highlight -
Use what you got – From doing her own photography to the props she uses to style the Drake on Cake photos, watching Joy’s process was a helpful reminder that you can use whatever is in your house and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Drake on Cake started as a passion project – I didn’t realize that Joy started Drake on Cake for fun. She shared that it was one of the ways (in addition to making flowers) that allowed her to recharge and have another creative outlet. Which brings me to the last takeaway -
Have Fun! – Thank you for this reminder, Joy!
Bonus: I’ma need Joy to let me hire her to be my interior designer. #goals
If you’re visiting or live in New Orleans and haven’t had the chance, take one of Joy’s workshops. I had a great time, and I felt welcomed and comfortable in her space. If you take the Drake on Cake workshop, you’ll get to drink a cocktail and eat some cake (and cookies, too!) ;-)