Valery Jean-Bart made cheesecakes with his mom every Sunday for four years while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. When she died in August 2012, Jean-Bart had all the recipes from their weekly ritual and emailed countless restaurant owners, begging them to taste his cakes.
He got his shot with former Oddfellows owner Matt Spillers, who asked him to bring one to try. Jean-Bart brought 16. After tasting them, Spillers decided to carry the cakes at two of his establishments.
Jean-Bart spent the next two years moonlighting as a baker after his day job at a civil engineering firm. He baked in the basement of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and sold cheesecakes to restaurants until opening his own bakery on Maple Avenue in 2015. A location on Greenville Avenue followed in 2017.
“I would do everything under the sun to keep my mom’s business alive — except for killing and drugs and illicit stuff,” Jean-Bart says.
The cheesecakes are light and not overly sweet. Jean-Bart’s mom was diabetic, so their recipes reduced the sugar. In fact, the ingredient list is quite small, with no fillers, gelatins or preservatives.
Did you know? Jean-Bart collected water, face masks and hand sanitizer to give to demonstrators at protests against police violence.
“It’s a basic recipe, but it’s all in the way we process,” Jean-Bart says. “It’s the minutes spent mixing. Every ingredient has an order. It’s a top secret one.”
Jean-Bart recommends the classic strawberry cheesecake, the red velvet, banana pudding or cookies and cream. For an indulgent treat, try the chocolate turtle made with Oreo crust, black forest cheesecake, caramel sauce, chocolate ganache and pecans. Or try the BAE with a graham cracker crust and classic cheesecake filled with rich vanilla pudding. It’s drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with candied pecans made from scratch.
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