Today I am interviewing Debra Miller, owner of Incredible Edibles Bakery and North End Catering in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Debra’s bakery is close to home for me, just a quick drive on the Interstate, but also because she made my amazingly beautiful and delicious wedding cake last year! When we were shopping for a cake and met with Debra, the cake samples were so good, there was no need to meet with any other bakers for a comparison! Hands down, it’s the best tasting wedding cake I’ve ever had.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START BAKING?
When I was 7, my mother put me in 4-H club and we baked brownies over and over and over until we got them perfect. I also enjoyed reading the food book in our encyclopedia set—-really strange but somehow that book fascinated me and I wanted to try everything in it! But most of all, I learned from my mother who always had a dessert on the kitchen counter or in the cookie jar.
DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO BAKE FOR A LIVING?
No, I started out of necessity being a single mom of 4 young boys.
In college I became obsessed with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and had croissant dough rising on trays all over my apartment. So I guess I was somewhat self-taught and there has been much trial and error along the way.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF STARTING YOUR OWN BAKERY? Probably starting without a solid financial start-up. I was a regular at used equipment auctions!
WHAT IS YOUR BEST-SELLING BAKED GOOD? It has always been our giant éclairs but now we focus on wedding cakes.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE ITCHING TO START THEIR OWN BAKERY? Start small—perhaps in your home kitchen. Use favorite family recipes which almost all of my line comes from. My mother was an avid baker and she was a great inspiration.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU? I return all email inquiries early in the morning with my coffee before I get too busy and I compile production lists for the day. Once in the shop the ovens go on to warm up and then the baking begins! I try to group like items together—each day is a different type of cake or pastry.
HOW HAVE YOU GOTTEN THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR BAKERY? In the beginning, I took samples around to restaurants which was very successful but now that we focus on weddings, we use the internet more and more.
FOR FUN, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BAKED GOODIE? Rum Raisin Cake
AND FINALLY, DO YOU EVER GET TIRED OF CAKE? If I am around it too much, I crave other kinds of snacks—but if I am on vacation or away for a few days, something sweet is always good!
Aren’t these cakes just gorgeous? Debra is so talented!
Thanks, Debra, for giving us a peek into your lovely bakery and into your day.