Beth Biundo was the pastry chef at Lilette for a decade before leaving two years ago to pursue a career in interior design. She missed being in the kitchen, however, and returned slowly, starting with a bimonthly bake sale at Satsuma Cafe last fall. In May, Biundo launched a pastry business (www.- bethbiundosweets.com) and worked out of a friend's kitchen before moving into a commercial space at the newly opened Carrollton Commissary (8837 Willow St.; www.carrolltoncommissary.com), where she sells specialty cakes, pastries, cookies and tarts by appointment. Biundo spoke with Gambit about getting back into the kitchen and how her interior design career now influences her work.
What made you decide to return to the culinary field?
Biundo: I guess I missed it. I've done it for 15 years, and I always really liked it. I had a cake business on the side while I was still at Lilette but eventually stopped after Bouligny (Tavern) opened and I was working both places. I was working for a great interior design firm here in town, but when I started to do the pop-up, after a while I realized I wanted to have my own business. There seemed to be enough interest, so I decided to try it out. I think part of it is that I enjoyed doing it so much — that was the biggest part. I could just make up the menu out of anything, and there weren't really any guidelines, there wasn't really any direction.
How does your set-up at Carrollton Commissary work?
B: It's a commercial kitchen that I share with a few other people. I didn't really know what a commissary was until a couple of years ago. I don't think there was really even a need for them until pretty recently, especially with all the food trucks that came along. It's a space (cooks) can rent out if they need the extra kitchen space.
Having worked in restaurants for (so long), there are a lot of good things about the set-up, flexibility with your schedule, for instance.
(My business) is a boutique cake business and it's all special order ... so it's pretty much all through the website, usually several days in advance and by appointment. I do specialty cakes, desserts ... it's very flavor-focused. They're very clean cakes, nothing too froufrou, and I don't do any type of fondant. I'll also have a lot of packaged candy cakes and things for the holidays. Basically, people email me what they're looking for, and we take it from there. There aren't a lot of rules.
What similarities exist between interior design and pastry?
B: They're both creative fields, obviously. I think people think it's crazy how I left and now I'm back doing this again. But I just feel refreshed after taking the time, and I kind of think it helped my pastry, especially visually. Now I guess I'm just looking at things a little bit differently, more visually. In a restaurant kitchen you don't always have the time or the opportunity to do that.