Some of the most innovative chefs in any city work in pastry, and Austin is no exception. Success in pastry takes precision and patience, and our 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards nominees for Pastry Chef of the Year represent the city's top talent.
While some of these nominees have over a decade of experience, others have been in the game for five. You'll find some working from the kitchens of Austin’s most buzzy restaurants, while others ship from ghost kitchens. On this list, two nominees take diametrically different stances on french pastries, at least two bake to stay connected to the community immediately around them, and seemingly everyone eats with their eyes as well as their taste buds.
Get to know Austin's pastry all-stars below, then join us April 28 at Fair Market for our annual Tastemaker Awards tasting event and awards ceremony. We'll unveil the winner in this category and many others — tickets are on sale now.
Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
This proud Xicana pastry chef bakes her childhood memories into little celebrations of greater food equity. Her bakery, Comadre Panadería, has rotated around weekly local events since 2019 while Camacho considers options for a permanent space. Conchas and donas (doughnuts in Spanish) are frequent offerings with unique flavor combinations including mesquite and chocolate, or cardamom and purple carrot jam. The panadería’s goal is to make an outsized contribution to social and environmental activism, proving that even small organizations can make a difference. Camacho plans to tackle these changes through ingredients: responsibly sourced, and as local as it can find. She set her sights on this goal in 2017, with Comadre’s first-ever pop-up, a Seattle fundraiser in collaboration with local coffee roaster Dorothea Coffee. Thanks to its nomadic nature, the panadería is perfect for collaborations and has teamed up multiple times with Austin’s beloved Nixta Taquería.
Abby Jane Love, Abby Jane Bakeshop
Since moving here in 2013, Abby Jane Love — a Louisiana transplant now deeply entrenched in Austin’s culinary community — has embraced the Hill Country wholeheartedly. Her ingredients come from the same place as her baked goods: the Barton Springs Mill houses the Abby Jane Bakeshop in Dripping Springs. Love met mill owner James A. Brown while serving as pastry chef at the popular and long-standing butcher shop, Dai Due. The two teamed up to create and showcase heirloom grain flours. which show up on the menu with great specificity: for example, the cookies are marked “Flours: AP Standard, whole grain Ryman Rye.” The bakery introduces customers to new ingredients on a monthly basis through two subscription services — sourdoughs and seasonal bakery goods — including delicious baked goods and notes on how to use the different flours. Love’s goal is not just to teach, but to influence “the agricultural landscape” and protect integrity in baked goods.
Kendall Melton, Vivian's Boulangerie
Kendall Melton’s family has been in Texas for six generations, but French pastry owns a large portion of her heart. Fittingly, Melton’s take on French pastry stereotypes couldn’t be clearer: “prissy dessert lovers might want to seek their frilly parfaits elsewhere,” says the co-founder’s bio at Vivian’s Boulangerie. Focused on hearty puff pastries rather than entremets, “let them eat cake” simply isn’t an option at this bakery. Supporting each other is the only option, and Vivian’s makes monthly donations to the ACLU, Austin animal rescue organizations, and nonprofits aligned with Black Lives Matter. Vivian, the other co-founder and Melton’s late cat, would approve of this pet-friendly work, launched in 2020 in her memory. Right now, Vivian’s operates out of a “secret” ghost kitchen for online order pick-ups or deliveries. While Austin locals get the best of Vivian’s deliveries, the delivery range has expanded for more shipping-stable products like glittery flavored drink syrups.
Julie Myrtille, Julie Myrtille Bakery
The marketer-turned-youngest female chef inducted into the Academie Culinaire de France is still going strong in her pivot to sweets. Just five years after that induction, she’s moved up through farmer’s markets to an East Austin storefront bearing her name. The presentation of Myrtille’s confections is meticulous. And while few may have expected a French bakery to find success in the capital city of Texas, her bright macarons, sugar-dusted Paris-Brest, and toasted meringues could sell anywhere. The bakery has found success outside of Austin, too: some products ship nationwide, including jams, caramel, and chocolate cake. Visitors looking for savory bakes can order brunch, lunch, and high tea to-go. The quiches are as beautiful as any sweet on the menu, reminding Austinites that bakeries can become staples for any meal.
Susana Querejazu, Lutie's
One of Eater’s former Young Guns, Susana Querejazu has certainly shot forward among the ranks of pastry chefs in Austin. The executive pastry chef at the Commodore Perry Estate and its garden restaurant, Lutie’s, has contributed to some of the city’s most influential restaurants: Enoteca Vespaio and Vespaio Ristorante, Uchi and Uchiko, Odd Duck and Barley Swine. Querejazu left Austin in 2017 on a brief hiatus with her husband and fellow 2022 Tastemaker nominee (tapped for the Rising Star Chef) category, Executive Chef Bradley Nicholson, to branch out creatively in the kitchen. As Nicholson changed jobs, so too did the multitalented Querejazu, who worked as an assistant sommelier and pastry sous chef (including some time at Michelin-starred restaurant Saison in San Francisco). No matter where she is, Querejazu is an authority on the perfect lamination of croissants, and she loves applying that knowledge to good causes by organizing charity bake sales.
Aaron Seriff-Cullick, Paper Route Bakery
Since Paper Route’s 2017 kickstarter come-up, founder and baker Aaron Seriff-Cullick has only gotten tighter with the loyal community around him. A blog post and podcast by Yelp this March praised Seriff-Cullick for his social media charisma, and emotional investment in getting customers what they came for. Nowadays, despite being lauded for incredible cookies that are currently only available for special events, the bakery is focusing on frosting-forward cakes. This fluffy cream is powdered sugar-free, according to a post by Paper Route on Instagram, eliminating corn starch. It also allows for natural flavors to shine, it says, after years spent perfecting the recipe. On long weekends, visitors can stop by the bakery and try cakes by the slice, from a rotating selection including “Lemon Kiss” under a thick blanket of Meyer lemon Chantilly cream, “Chocolate Fainting Couch” featuring chile pepper, and a very Mediterranean “Pistachio Oasis.”