If you crave a crispy on the outside, light textured, slightly chewy, cream filled macaron, look no further: Joe the Baker is a unique family-run business that serves pastries and cakes, with a specialty for classic, elegant French macarons. Baker is unique is being the only person in the DFW metroplex to offer a giant macaron cake (called the Big Mac).
“I was pretty lucky, I knew very early that I was going to cook professionally,” Chef Baker said. “I was four or five years old and I remember seeing these pictures from Europe of this pastry competition and [thinking] that’s what I am going to do. I’ve known pretty much my whole life, never lost interest, and chased it since then.”
Chef Joe Baker starting cooking in Montana in his teenage years. When the Iraq campaign began, he joined the war efforts. Soon, he realized he missed the kitchen and went to culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine in Washington, DC after the army.
Baker’s professional career stemmed from humble beginnings that allowed him to solidify his passion as a pastry chef.
“I always tried to work at the nicest place I could, and sometimes that was Pizza Hut or Dunkin’ Donuts,” Baker said. “I started working for free (called a “stage”) at a mid level restaurant and a bakery to see if I wanted to be a savory chef or pastry chef.”
After an intense yearlong of pastry school, Baker worked at Cityzen (now closed) under Eric Ziebold, a world renowned chef, and Amanda Cook, an award winning pastry chef.
“I went from culinary school, straight to the top, if there is such a thing,” Baker said. “It was the best restaurant in D.C. I was constantly trying to learn as much as I could.”
Baker artfully manages his personal life with his professional one; he moved to Mexico and eventually to Texas to support his wife and family; with his own business, Baker can dedicate more time towards his son.
In Texas, Baker diversified experience through catering companies, consulting for restaurants such as John Tesar’s Spoon (now closed) and working at hotels, including the Mansion on Turtle Creek and the Omni Dallas.
Baker states working as an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Dallas helped him grow the most since, “you don’t really understand something until you have to teach it over and over again.” At this time he was also featured on Food Network's Sweet Genius.
“Chef Baker has always been a very cutting edge, leading the pack as far as trends are concerned,” Victoria Hooker, fellow colleague at Le Cordon Bleu Dallas, said. “He was always experimenting with food, learning, growing and doing new things.”
Since a debut in April 2014, Baker decided “to bet on [himself] and start [his] own company.” His main team includes Joe Baker (chef/owner), his wife, Blair Baker, (photographer, webmaster, bookkeeper, and public relations), his pastry assistant, Rachel Wilson, and other support staff.
Running a family owned business allows his products to be more customized. Requests for gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and vegan products are accommodated. Custom flavors or designs can also be preordered for additional fees.
“When you are not on top, you don’t get to be a part of the creative process the same way,” Baker said. “My favorite part of my own company, is getting to have more direct say and helping people get what they want. It’s nice to talk with the person who wants the pastry and it’s fun to tackle the challenge, see how it can be done.”
Baker’s schedule is flexible and adapts to the needs of his customers, whether it be for a food order, consulting or cooking classes. Mondays and Tuesdays are his guaranteed kitchen days when he buys products, talks with his staff and checks wholesale accounts. Baker also has learned to manage emails, phones and other logistics.
“I know he’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Hooker said. “ One of the things he has done as he developed this entrepreneurial side is become very involved in the community. He does things for the city, [for example], last week for [July] 4th he was out here doing a chef demonstration and he is always involved in the farmers market.”
Currently, Baker’s business does not have an official storefront, but sells delectable products at different locations around North Dallas, such as Royal Blue Grocer in Highland Park and Liberation Coffee Company in Coppell. Online orders can be placed here.
Baker and his team can be found at the Coppell Farmers Market every Saturday that it is open from April to December. At the Farmers Market, a box of Market Macarons costs $10 and includes 6 macarons while Market Quickbreads cost $5; the flavors for both treats are seasonal and color schemes specific to certain holidays.
“The reason I’m out here at the Farmer’s Market is that I believe in this,” Baker said. “It’s time for people to start trusting pastry chefs again. I’m out here trying to create the community. I think there is a passion for nature that is missing in the global economics of food.”
Baker’s business goal is simple: “Support your local guy. Shake their hand. See what they have going on.”