St. Louis Pastry Chefs Hosting Bakers for Black Lives Event Sunday

Jun 5, 2020 at 6:15 am
click to enlarge Shimon Otsaka's stencil, and much more, will be available for purchase this Saturday at the Bakers for Black Lives bake sale. - COURTESY OF HANNAH KERNE/BAKERS FOR BLACK LIVES
Shimon Otsaka's stencil, and much more, will be available for purchase this Saturday at the Bakers for Black Lives bake sale.

This Sunday, some of St. Louis' top pastry chefs will gather in the Central West End for an epic bake sale that is about much more than delicious treats.

The event, Bakers for Black Lives, is a collective action of several prominent members of the area's pastry community, organized to show support for the civil rights movement that has arisen following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Organizer Hannah Kerne, most recently pastry chef at Vicia, explains that the idea came to her and her roommate, Polite Society and Bellwether pastry chef Sharon Harter, when they were struggling to make sense of such a fraught moment.

"Sharon and I cook constantly, and we've been really struggling with everything going on," Kerne explains. "We wanted to figure out a way to lend our voices in such a painful dynamic in such a painful time, and we thought, 'Let's bake.' For us, baking felt so natural, because it is genuinely our authentic love language. That's how we feed people — we feed souls. It's the only way we know how to communicate all this pain."

Kerne and Harter began brainstorming only a few days ago and reached out to their colleagues in the pastry community to enlist their assistance in sketching out their vision for action. In no time, their ideas coalesced into Bakers for Black Lives, a bake sale, that will not only raise awareness for racial justice, but also raise funds for social justice organizations, including ArchCity Defenders, Campaign Zero and STL Mutual Aid.

Bakers for Black Lives is scheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday outside of the Vino Gallery in the Central West End. As Kerne explains, the timeframe allows those who come to the bake sale to leave in time for the protest occurring at 2 p.m. at St. Louis City Hall. Participating chefs include Kerne and Harter, as well as Simone Faure of La Patisserie Chouquette, Shimon Otsuka of Nathaniel Reid Bakery, Tai Davis of Alchemy Bakery and Meaghan Coltrain of Niche Food Group. In addition to the pros, there will also be treats on hand from volunteers who wish to donate goodies to the cause.

"We don't want everyone to do that though because we can't handle it," Kerne laughs, "This has all come together so quickly, so we are still trying to figure it all out."

Kerne notes that the plan is for Bakers for Black Lives to be more than a one-time event. The group hopes to have more bake sales leading up to a Juneteenth celebration on June 19, which is being spearheaded by Faure. The group plans on having more details on these future plans shortly.

In the meantime, Kerne and Harter are just overwhelmed with gratitude for the response they have gotten for the event and the support they are receiving from the St. Louis pastry community.

"We are all very excited and emotionally invested in this," Harter says. "It's a way for us to work through our own sadness and turn it into something positive."

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