We’re not going to sugarcoat this for you: Sometimes when you’re having a bad day (or year, thanks, pandemic), it’s best to eat dessert first, especially when you live in a town where it’s easy as pie to score a divine indulgence to treat your sweet tooth.
These five local pastry chefs — the crème de la crème of cream, sugar, and flour — are elevating Austin’s pastry and desserts realm to new powdered-sugar-sprinkled heights. And we’re excited (it’s not just the sugar rush) to celebrate them at the annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.
Learn more about these doyens of dessert below, then join us August 5 at Fair Market for the 2021 Tastemaker Awards as we honor our Pastry Chef of the Year nominees and announce the winner, along with winners in all of our other categories. Tickets are on sale now.
Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Emmer & Rye, Henbit, Kalimotxo, TLV, Hestia, Canje
Born in Guyana with Caribbean roots, Tavel Bristol-Joseph — who co-owns some of Austin’s favorite restaurants, including the soon-to-open Canje, and was referred to by Food & Wine magazine as a “pastry savant” — began ruling the kitchen as a child, and hasn’t looked back since. Landing in Austin after high school, Bristol-Joseph has put the icing on the cake for the local pastry scene, creating gorgeous, gasp-worthy sweet treats, many of them so delicately plated that you almost don’t want to eat them — almost.
Abby Jane Love, Abby Jane Bakeshop
When acclaimed pastry chef Abby Jane Love decided to open her eponymous bakery in Dripping Springs in January 2021, she had but one goal: make delicious baked goods from the heritage grains grown in Texas and milled in Dripping Springs. And considering Abby Jane Bakeshop resides within the Barton Springs Mill facility — and has gained a rabid following for its bounty of fresh-baked breads, pizzas, sandwiches, and confectionary goodies — we’d say it wasn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea. Treat yourself to the Queen P, Love’s indulgent take on the classic French kouign-amann pastry.
Alex Manley and Jennifer Tucker, Swedish Hill, MML Hospitality
Any local worth their weight in pastries is definitely sweet on Swedish Hill, one of many eateries operated by prolific restaurant management group MML Hospitality. At this long-loved Sixth Street café and bakery, pastry director Jennifer Tucker and baking director Alex Manley whip up a bit of magic with sugar, spice, and everything nice. From melt-in-the-mouth pastries and hearth-baked breads and cakes to must-have morning buns, chewy ginger molasses cookies, lemon tartlets, sweet and savory scones, and Manley’s prized bagels, Swedish Hill feels like an Austinite’s home sweet home.
Ariana Quant, Uchiko, Uchi
For executive pastry chef Ariana Quant, creating one-of-a-kind, mesmerizing desserts is a piece of cake. The Culinary Institute of America grad earned her chops at her family’s Chinese restaurant, and later traveled the country mastering her pastry craft under some of the most celebrated chefs around. Her Uchi and Uchiko desserts — like everything else at these meticulous fine-dining spots — are polished, perfectly decadent, and impeccable. Whenever possible, seek out Quant’s curated sweet boxes for ultimate dessert euphoria.