BLANCHESTER — Caring for others and practicing self-care is what motivates local creative culinarians.
Kristen Allen-McVey and her husband, Brian McVey, run the small bakery Mak’s on Broadway Street in Blanchester.
Allen-McVey has been baking out her house for 12 years until she opened their storefront in July. She has her grandmother, Marilyn, to thank for this love of baking.
“It was a hobby that was passed on from my Granny. We just did that together,” she said. “I haven’t been to decorating school or pastry school or anything like that. I just watched Granny. She did basic buttercream roses. After that, I would see things and pick them up from there.”
But life presented an “obstacle” for the stay-at-home mother of nine kids. So, she decided to turn her love of baking into her job.
“Cake is my love. It is my first love. We also do cookies, but we don’t do fried food,” she said. “While we don’t do doughnuts, we do these treats called ‘pumpkin round things’ which is like a baked doughnut — but we don’t say that word in here.”
Decorating and artistry has been in Allen-McVey’s mindset ever since she was younger and wanted to be an animator for Disney. While she didn’t go down that path, she’s brought that creativity to her cakes.
“I get to play art with sugar now,” she said.
One of the earliest cakes she remembers baking was for a family member’s birthday. While the decorating wasn’t special, according to her, it was a welcomed surprise since they usually bought a cake at the grocery store.
She really loves to do things that would be seen as “out of the box”, including “rustic weddings designs” and providing do-it-yourself “cookie kits.”
To Kristen and Brian, what makes the whole enterprise worthwhile is seeing the customers’ reactions.
“I kid you not, we’ve had people walk in and cry (happily) when they see it,” she said.
One custom, in particular, was incredibly happy with their cake. Allen-McVey said they had ordered a German chocolate cake which was “pretty”, not elaborately decorated.
The customer later sent a message saying their dad had been through chemotherapy and hadn’t been able to taste anything. He really wanted a German chocolate cake, his favorite, and it was perfect.
“It’s just cake, but it’s not just cake,” said Allen-McVey. “Celebrating things is a big deal for us … having good things to eat is our love language.”
A piece of advice the two give to anyone looking into starting a business or pursuing art of any kind is to not get burnt out on something you love and give yourself a break.
“Don’t take on too much … don’t bite off more than you can chew,” said Kristen. “You have to be able to say ‘no’ at some point for your own well-being.”
Mak’s bakery is located at 142 S. Broadway St. in Blanchester. For more information about the bakery, visit their website tastemaks.com or check them out on Facebook and Instagram.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.