For as long as I can remember I’ve loved to bake for people, to love them though food. My mom despised cooking and my dad had no idea how, but somewhere I picked up the love of baking. I remember having birthday parties when everyone would get a cupcake and get to decorate it to their heart’s content. This was by far the most important part of the party. I would cover the cupcake with frosting and sprinkles, carefully choosing the colors and design, and then get the joy of eating my masterpiece. It was a way to channel my creativity, and I loved the feeling of being able to light up someone’s face by giving them a treat. There is something so soft and simple about baked goods, as if they wrap you up in a little pillow of love, and I got to be the bearer of that love. I started with boxed mixes for cakes and brownies and at some point graduated onto recipes, finding a flow in baking and a deep joy in sharing what I bake with others.
When a close friend’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I organized my friends to do a bake sale on the street. We raised $500 – big bucks at the time for a tween – and I found a matching donor so was proudly able to give $1,000 to the American Cancer Society. This turned into a regular occurrence, and I would organize massive baking parties and sales on the street to fundraise for causes I believed in.
When I got to college, I heard about Challah for Hunger, then in operation at one school in southern California, and decided to start my own chapter at UCLA. Each week, we’d bake over 100 loaves of warm bread, stuffed with chocolate, cinnamon sugar, or covered in seeds. I poured my heart into those challah loaves, organizing the people, the ingredients, all the logistics for a commercial kitchen and more. We used all the proceeds to support victims of genocide in Darfur, finding causes that supported women on the ground and provided safety and support inside the turbulence there.
The LA jewish journal featured me in their “Mensch List” and I graced the cover of the glossy magazine. It was fun to be LA-famous, but more than anything, the concept just felt so obvious to me. Food and service. Such a natural fit. Everyone eats, everyone feels the love in food. So we just connect the dots.