When did you and your co-founder Hope Williams launch Flour, and what has been your favorite part of starting your own food business in Austin?Hope and I turned on the ovens and started baking regularly in October 2012, although there was about seven months of recipe tasting, research and logistics prior to that. It sounds cheesy, but the truth is that my favorite part of Flour happens every time someone tries one of our items and tells us that it’s the best they’ve ever had, or are so excited that they bring their friends and family to us and insist they get something. Our customers, and the Austin food community as a whole, have been so surprising in their support and growing enthusiasm. This aspect of the business was so unexpected and inspiring, and I will always be grateful for that experience.
How do Flour’s guiding principles align with the existing small business community in Austin?The ideas of freshly made artisanal products that use local, sustainable and organic ingredients whenever possible is a popular tenet in Austin, but beyond that, our commitment to becoming a zero impact bakery — from removing plastics in our packaging to continually striving to have Flour leave the planet and the people it touches a little better than it found it — is supported by the buying habits of the people of Austin and in the policies of the city itself.
Which are your most popular baked goods, or even your personal favorites?I love our Multigrain Bread so much. I am a little embarrassed to say that on more than one occasion I will sit with a fresh loaf and some spread and start a movie and not long after wonder what happened to the bread, only to realize I am now the guy who eats a whole loaf of amazing bread. I regret nothing. I will also say that I love our croissants, especially the Cinnamon Almond. Ours are a little denser and richer than people may be used to. We have been told they are more similar to a European-style croissant.
Who do you consider a “local hero” among your fellow food business owners in town?There are so many people who are supporting the local food community that I admire. Personally, it is the other scrappers who have a vision and are tenacious in executing it. Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler of Salt & Time, Tara Miko of Happy Hemp, John and Kendall Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ, I really could go on and on. This city is bursting with people who are trying to do something the most honest and best way possible, and that is what we are striving for as well.
Is there a particular chef at this year’s Festival who you’re excited to learn a few tips from?Paul Qui is just hitting on every cylinder and and I would watch that guy heat a cup of tea. And of course Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar if only to show us what we can strive for. There is so much talent and we are so honored to be asked to be a small part of it.
Butterface Bake Shop
When did you launch Butterface Bake Shop and what has been your favorite part of starting your own food business in Austin?Butterface’s launch coincided with the opening of Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden in July 2012. The folks at Banger’s have been very supportive and being on their menu, I couldn’t have asked for a better start in getting the Butterface name out there! My favorite part of starting a food business in Austin is just meeting people! Whether they are in the food industry or not, most people have been really excited to hear about Butterface or are willing to help in any way they can. For that I am very appreciative.
How did you decide to start Butterface?I’m not professionally trained. I’ve schooled myself through lots of eating, research, reading and trial and error. I grew up watching my mother and grandmother in the kitchen, and many of my recipes are based on theirs. There was always something in the oven between the two of them, whether it was my mother’s peach pie or my grandmother’s kolaches. My grandmother was a first-generation American; her parents came from what is now the Czech Republic, so her kolaches were legit.
I didn’t really bake much on my own until about four years ago, when I made cupcakes for a friend’s birthday. I was living in Manhattan and had this ridiculously tiny kitchen with literally no counter space. I used cutting boards over my stove to prep. But it was in that joke of a kitchen that I fed my baking passion. I tested recipes on my coworkers, until I realized that this is what I want to do. In February 2012 I left my marketing career in New York and came home to Texas to try and make something happen. I believed Austin was the perfect place for me and I haven’t looked back.
Where can people snag your sweets?I do custom orders by phone or email, but currently Butterface is exclusive to Banger’s. I’m looking for a kitchen space I can call home during the day, rather than keeping my vampire baking hours (I bake at Banger’s when they are closed at night). Once I find that, I can get permitted to sell anywhere else.
What are your most popular dessert items at Banger’s, anything you’re introducing soon?I opened with a peach cake with jalapeño honey lime cream cheese buttercream and that did really well. A maple pot de crème topped with pecan sage praline was also a hit. Anything with a spicy kick to it works really well at Banger’s, and I enjoy making interesting flavor combinations like that. Peach season is my absolute favorite time of year! I’ll definitely do the Peach Jalapeño Cake again, as well as some new treats.