Bakers Box

ICE Pastry Students and Alumni Collaborate to Elevate the AAPI Community

Pastry & Baking Arts student Stephanie Loo shares the success of a storytelling Bakers Box.

Photo by Ben Hon

The vision for With Warm Welcome has been to amplify and humanize Asian American chefs, restaurateurs and founders by producing podcasts, programming experiential events and creating meaningful collaborations.

In mid-March, Arnold Byun, founder of With Warm Welcome (WWW), approached me with the idea of doing a Bakers Box after being inspired by the efforts of Bakers Against Racism last year. As an avid podcast listener, I had stumbled upon With Warm Welcome’s podcast months back and reached out to Arnold via Instagram saying that I loved the work that they were doing and asked if there was any way to get involved.

ICE Pastry & Baking Arts student Stephanie Loo
ICE Pastry & Baking Arts student Stephanie Loo

Fast forward to the last day in March, and Volume 1 of our Bakers Box project was a huge success. The idea behind Bakers Box was to provide a medium to share the stories of talented individuals who are creating their own paths forward in the world of pastry. The boxes showcase the breadth of both emerging and established Asian American pastry people. Not only have we had the opportunity to give a platform to these pastry chefs, but we’ve also impacted the AAPI community at large through this project, giving a percentage of proceeds from each box to nonprofit organizations such as Apex for Youth and One Book One World.

The time between our initial call, when we were floating the still amorphous idea around, to the day of Bakers Box pick-ups was only about two weeks. We were working around the clock to coordinate with all 18 bakers and pastry chefs we featured, design marketing content and have illustrations drawn, and figure out all the logistics, operations details and packaging. It was an ambitious timeline but we pulled it off through a herculean effort from our small but dedicated team at With Warm Welcome.

Bakers Box of assorted pastries
Photo by Ben Hon

We debuted Volume 1 in New York City, Volume 2 in Los Angeles, and have many more cities lined up for the coming months including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, to name a few.

Many ICE and ICC alumni, who I have admired for years, were featured in our first two boxes including Joy Cho (Pastry, '19) and Shari Tanaka (Pastry, '12). I also had a chance to be one of the bakers in the initial box, along with my friend and fellow Pastry & Baking Arts student, Ying Ting Hu.

We’ve been so overwhelmed by the amount of support we’ve received from everyone involved in the project: Valrhona generously donated chocolate for the LA Bakers Box; Cha An Bon Bon, Steep LA and Paulie Gee's Logan Square graciously opened up their spaces to host us; the Los Angeles Times and Infatuation New York wrote about our project. In each of our first two cities, we made 100 boxes and sold out within 48 hours. Though what we’re providing is a box of sweets, it’s much more powerful than that. There is boundless Asian American talent across the country, and it’s a huge privilege to play a role in showcasing these individuals and their stories, which can be overlooked. Especially in light of the recent anti-Asian violence across the country, this project has been particularly meaningful to me.

The ICE community has participated in similarly sweet activism: Pastry & Baking Arts Chef-Instructor Joseph Settepani contributed to New York Magazine's The Cookie Edit, a box of a dozen cookies from bakers around the city benefitting ROAR (Restaurants Organizing, Advocating & Rebuilding) this month; ICE alum Bisma Akhtar​ (Pastry, '19) participated in Bakers Against Racism in June; and Pastry & Baking Arts Chef-Instructor Tracy Wilk started #bakeitforward delivering cookies to frontline workers in 2020.

You can keep up with what we’re doing — and follow along on my culinary school journey — on Instagram @stephanieloobakes. Build your community of fellow bakers while establishing a foundation in Pastry & Baking Arts at ICE.

Submitted by Becks on April 28, 2021 10:43am

Amazing work, Stephanie! This is incredible.

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