Well, as a result of everything that happened last year – the amazing attention I, along with other African-American entrepreneurs received from the community and my spotlights on NPR’s Marketplace, the word was getting out about my baklava. A company called Eat Okra added me to their list of Black-owned businesses in the Salt Lake City area. One fateful Saturday, mid February, a gentleman called to place an order after a close friend who wanted to support a Black-owned business asked him if he wanted to order some baklava. He called me, placed the order, and set up a time to come and pick it up the next day. The next day was Valentine’s Day and I have long gotten over not having a partner. It was just a regular day for me. When he placed the order, I asked my standard questions, which included, “Would you like me to wrap it as a gift for Valentine’s Day.” He said, “No” and I didn’t think anything else about it.
Long story short, (I know, I know…too late for that!) when he arrived, everything was going as it normally does…great conversation with my client, laughs about how a black girl ended up in Utah making, of all things, baklava. And then he asked me a question I don’t often hear. He asked me, “So, what’s your policy on dating your customers?” My guard immediately went up as I told him the truth, “Well, I haven’t dated in a long time and frankly I don’t really know how to date.” He said, “Well, who really does?” I thought, “Fair answer” and said, “Well, like I said, I don’t really know how to date but I know how to be a friend. Let’s be friends”…thinking that my response would get rid of him because most men my age aren’t looking for a friend; they always want more. Well to my surprise he was ok with the idea of being friends and he asked if he could call me. That was Sunday. Tuesday he called, and the rest is history.
His name is Joel and he is the kindest, sweetest, most intelligent, loyal man I’ve ever met. He’s an avid reader, an amazing father, works hard in his field and like me, wants to be part of a loving, positive, emotionally stable couple. He supports my business (this wouldn’t work if he didn’t) and what I’m trying to achieve here and is the best dishwasher and proofreader a girl could ask for.
I am so grateful that he wanted to support/purchase from my business or we would have never met. I’m grateful to his friend Josh for suggesting it. I’m thankful to EAT OKRA for adding me to their site/app, and I’m just overjoyed to the Universe for putting him in my path at this time in my life. The stars aligned! My Leo is 21 and out of the house, living his life. My Sofia is graduating from high school this year and will be soon moving on to live her life, and I am so proud and happy to see my children reach these milestones. This was the perfect time for me to meet someone special, and I am so happy that it happened as a result of my baklava. Thank you, Sheer Ambrosia…you have blessed me again. I wanted to tell you all my good news because you are all like family to me. So many of you I also met as a result of the move to support Black-owned businesses. I feel like you are invested in my business and me, and I wanted to share with you a special thing that happened to me because of my business. So there you have it…I’m still baking and nurturing my third child at home, but now I’m not doing it alone. I have someone else besides each of you in my corner, loving me along the way.
The answer has always been “no,” but I would tell myself that I needed to research that or go into the kitchen and figure something out. Then kids, life, and orders would keep me busy and I never ended up doing it. Research and recipe development has always been one of my favorite elements of my business, but finding the time has been tricky when you’re juggling as much as I do.
This year I was determined to get on top of this whole “baklava cake” idea. What would it look like? Would it be a combination of baklava and real cake consistency? I’m not a true cake baker, nor do I want to be. I specialize in baklava and I really don’t want to change that business model just yet. Would it be a genuine, honest baklava, but instead of cutting it into individual pieces keep it whole?
After many thoughts, ideas, and trials I decided that my baklava cake would be an authentic baklava. Instead of the rectangular pan, cut in my usual triangle slices though, I wanted it to be round, like a real cake. What I also was adamant about was that if I was going to do this, whatever I designed had to be elegant. So I went back to old world baking 101 and found what I felt was the most beautiful baklava pattern ever. I found the design on a Turkish website that showcased that technique that you just don’t often see in the States. The top is intricate and the design is a network of diamond shapes that remind me of a star or a flower.
I essentially use my same recipe that I make for a 40-piece pan, but instead of a rectangle, it’s a softer, round shape that would be gorgeous as the centerpiece of any celebration/holiday table. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Eid al-Fitr, Rosh Hashanah, or whatever special dinner you’re serving your loved ones, this baklava “cake,” is the perfect centerpiece/conversation starter/superstar/VIP of your event. You can also order it in any of my 12 flavors, Cranberry Walnut Spice for your Thanksgiving table for example. This idea has been one in the making for a long time. Thank you to all who encouraged me and gave