The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted this country and has turned things upside-down for so many people, especially small business owners.
In the midst of small businesses navigating through this pandemic, three Missouri City-based small business owners and pastry chefs organized the Mo. City Bake Off to help other bakers in the Fort Bend community by providing them with an opportunity to compete, showcase their talent, network and receive the exposure they desperately need during these challenging times.
Those three pastry chefs – Chef Nikita Freeman, Chef Neicey Shelton and Chef Darian Butler – are African American small business owners who each own a bakery, and who all grew up in Missouri City, Texas. Chef Nikita, owner of the Sweet Shack Xpress, is a U.S. Army Veteran who used baking to ease her mind while working in the Middle East as a contractor for the Department of Defense and Department of State. Chef Neicey, owner of Gimme Shugar, is a retired hair stylist who embraced her mother’s baking prowess after closing her German-based hair salon in 2007. Chef Darian Butler, owner of DB Delectables, is an IT Project Manager who used his grandmother’s recipes as the foundation for his now internationally-recognized brand.
“We were originally introduced to the idea of hosting the bake off after a disheartening experience as participants in a local baking competition, said Chef Neicey. “The organizer pocketed the majority of the funds and there was no true commitment to fairly critiquing each of the contestants. After the experience, we decided to form the ‘Bakers of Mo. City’ to host our own competition to help other bakers promote their businesses, as well as develop a kinship amongst one another.”
The Mo. City Bake Off was recently held at Sugar’s Cajun Cuisine & Bar, located in Missouri City, and was extremely well-attended. Missouri City Councilman Jeffrey L. Boney was on hand to serve as a tiebreaker judge, although a tiebreaker was not needed, as the first-place prize winner, Chef Tenique Guillory of the G Shoppe Custom Cakes, overwhelmed the judges with a “Black Lives Matter” inspired cake that was a whopping 2 ½ ft. wide & stood 55 in. high.
“From top to bottom, each layer of the cake represented the struggles of our ancestors until now,” said Chef Tenique, “Now that our plight is recognized and fought for on a global level, I wanted to create a work of art that represented our journey.”
Chef Tenique received a $1,000 prize, a two-night stay at the Hampton Inn Stafford and a first-place plaque, as well as her cake being featured at Sugar’s Cajun Cuisine & Bar for 30 days.
An eclectic group of distinguished chefs were selected to judge this year’s entries.
Here’s the list:
- Chef Cynthia Adams, TLC’s Ultimate Cake-Of
- Chef Dory Fung, Potion
- Chef Willie Mike, Willie Mike Events & Entertainment
- Chef Sahid Gordon, Gordon’s Catering & Gourmet Eats
- Lily Halabi, Lily’s Cakes – Cake Wars
- Cesar Cano, Master Chef 2018
There were 22 contestants in all, and each were challenged to create a cake display that would not only wow the esteemed judges, but would measure up to their standards in taste, texture, and creativity. The majority of those who participated were self-taught home bakers who were eager to show what they were made of. Each participant received a plaque for their participation, but many walked away with something that was more rewarding than a prize.
“So many of the participants have reached out to thank us for hosting the bake off,” said Chef Nikita. “Many of them have formed support groups online, as well as exchanging information in hopes of collaborating on future opportunities. At the end of the day…this is what it is all about. We did what we set out to do.”
The Bakers of Mo. City plan to announce future dates for the next Mo. City Bake Off and will continue to share the experience on their social media pages.
The 1st Annual Mo. City Bake Off was coordinated by Jason Shelton and sponsored by: The Sweet Shack Xpress, Gimmie Shugar, DB Delectables, The Hampton Inn, Lo Lo’s Ink Spot, Sugar’s Cajun Cuisine, & BarJJ’s Organics, Absolute Elegance Events, Sugar Land OB/GYN, The G Shoppe Custom Cakes and Kirby Pixie Productions.
Brandon Mack of Black Lives Matter Houston (BLMHOU) also received a $1,000 donation from the Bakers of Mo. City.
For more information about the founders of the competition, visit www.bakersofmocity.com.