CityBeat: How did you come up with the idea for Home Grown Cakes?
Andrea Dee: The idea for Home Grown Cakes came out of demand. In high school I started decorating cakes at a local bakery after school. Family and friends, and family and friends of theirs, started requesting I do cakes for them outside of that. I needed the money for college, so I started fulfilling those requests. Over the years a passion for farming blossomed and I decided to blend that with what I was already successful with, cakes. Last year, my husband and I certified a private kitchen commercial and re-vamped the business in hopes of saving money for our own farm. We’re getting close and loving what we do in the kitchen!
CB: The cakes are made from local farm-fresh ingredients. How many ingredients do you grow? How do your source your ingredients locally?
AD: I grow my own herbs: mint and lavender. I also grow rhubarb and some berries myself, blackberries mainly. My husband and I personally pick strawberries in the spring at local u-picks, and raspberries and blueberries are available later in the season. The taste and juiciness of local berries simply cannot be matched by California or Florida berries. I dry my own herbs and make my own fillings out of the local berries, preserving them for later use. We collect our own black walnuts off of local farms too. I also buy local farm-fresh eggs, apples and honey from other Northern Kentucky farmers.
When it comes to dairy, I buy what I can local, from places like Snowville Dairy.
What ingredients I can’t get local I mostly purchase organic. I have a lot of farmers and gardeners in my family and friends circle, luckily, so sometimes they give me part of their bounty to play around with.
My dedication to local ingredients limits my menu somewhat, but it also makes it fun and interesting. I’m devoted to supporting local businesses and farmers and the local food revolution personally and in my business, so I wouldn’t have it any other way.
CB: What are your most popular flavors?
AD: I design new flavors all the time, while in the kitchen, when I’m picking around in the garden, while driving down the road and even in the shower! I’m always thinking about what sounds good. My most popular flavors are Lavender Vanilla, Strawberry Fields and Chocolate-Mousse Berry.
CB: Can you discuss the philosophy behind Home Grown Cakes?
AD: One of my favorite quotes is, “If you are what you eat, it might as well be homegrown.” This is how we live and do business. We grow most of the food we eat in the summer, put up a bounty for winter and buy the rest from other local farmers. I want our products to be affordable because I think everyone should have an opportunity to eat real food made with love, and local farmers need our support as a community of consumers.
CB: How far in advance should brides contact you to order cakes?
AD: My husband and I operate Home Grown Cakes with the love and support of many family members. For now we all hold full-time jobs outside of the kitchen, so we book only 20-25 wedding cakes a year. Most brides consult with us about 12 months in advance of their wedding. We would prefer at least one month in advance, but dates book fast so the earlier the better. We are not usually able to accommodate last-minute requests, unless we happen to be available that weekend. We also have to allow time outside of booked dates to grow, harvest and preserve ingredients. The best way to get ahold of us it to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about Home Grown Cakes and Andrea Dee’s flavor menu: www.homegrowncakes.com