In September, as Hurricane Florence bore down on the Carolinas, employees at the 300 East restaurant in Dilworth were scrambling to protect thousands of dollars’ worth of refrigerated products. They were frantic that the old home they’re housed in would lose power and they took every precaution in case it did. Management closed the restaurant for the weekend, despite the loss of revenue.
And then Flo was a flop in Charlotte, for the most part. The restaurant was fine, but pastry chef Ashley Boyd and pastry sous chef Laney Jahkel-Parrish watched as the hurricane devastated the eastern part of the state. Feeling helpless, the two wondered what they could do to provide support to the people affected.
A half-baked idea
Then, Boyd reached out to Jahkel-Parrish late one night. “I think we should do a bake sale,” she texted. In three weeks, they whipped up Lovin’ From The Oven — a large-scale fundraising event to benefit the eastern part of the state.
More than 20 pastry chefs including Ashley Anna Tuttle from Haymaker, Miranda Brown from The Asbury and Justin Burke-Samson from Kindred and Hello, Sailor donated baked goods at the first Lovin’ From The Oven in November.
“The thing about chef people is that whenever something goes wrong, they say, ‘What can we do? What can we bake? What can we donate?’” Jahkel-Parrish said. “We had people searching us out once they found out we were doing it.”
That event, held at Free Range Brewing, sold out in one hour. “It was the most serendipitous day,” Jahkel-Parrish said. “Everything worked out just as it should have.”
They raised $3,600, almost doubling their goal. The proceeds were split evenly between the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and Pender County Schools’ Hurricane Relief. Funds donated to the food bank are used to provide food, cleaning supplies, hygiene items and water to 27 affected counties.
The second batch
Shoppers asked for another round of Lovin’ From The Oven close to Christmas Day — some of them want to show up to the family holiday party with “their” homemade pie. The upcoming holiday edition, to be held 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 22 at Free Range Brewing, won’t be much different from the last, with baked goods from more than 20 local chefs.
Shoppers can expect individual treats such as cookies and brownies, full pies, whole cakes, breads, edible host gifts, dog treats, coffee and a hot cocoa bar with homemade marshmallows (see sidebar), with prices ranging from $3-60. Look for gluten-free options, too.
Bonterra pastry chef TJay Jones is returning with his famous cheesecakes. “In the culinary world, I think we have a unique opportunity to really help people with what we provide,” he said. “Chef Ashley (Boyd) is the greatest. Anything she asks, I’m there.”
Jason Alexander, co-founder of Free Range Brewing, jumped at the chance to host the event at his Villa Heights taproom. “It’s exactly the type of event and cause we want to support,” he said. Alexander grew up in the areas affected by the hurricane. He appreciates how an event like Lovin’ From The Oven can bring awareness to what’s still needed in eastern North Carolina.
Funds raised from the upcoming sale will be split between the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and NC FIELD Farmworker Emergency Fund. “We’re shifting our focus a little bit with the beneficiaries,” Jahkel-Parrish said. “We’re going to pull in an element for our farmer friends. They were hugely impacted by the storm. Some of them lost all of their fall crops and haven’t been able to replant for their winter crop to get ready for spring. We still don’t know how bad it is.”
Beat the holidays with these delicious desserts at Lovin’ From The Oven
Here’s a sampling of what’s available on Dec. 22.
— Come fully-baked to your parent’s house with one of Bonterra Chef TJay Jones’ butter pecan or strawberry cheesecakes.
— Surprise the neighbors with a few of Your Mom’s Donuts, since your real mom can’t bake.
— Score brownie points (or cake points) with the boss with Freshlist Chef Matt Martin’s roasted pumpkin cake and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
— Bribe Santa with organic cacao bean chocolate bars from Potts Chocolate.
— Get on Santa’s naughty list with Bourbon Balls and Whiskey Marshmallows. They’re Laney Jahkel-Parrish’s answer to whiskey inspired treats.
— Treat grandma to decorated holiday sugar cookies from Sweet Spot Studio and Paige’s Designer Cookies.
— Toss the dog a bone or crunchy pumpkin cookies and soft pupcakes. Leave it to Kris Schmidt and Laney Jahkel-Parrish at 300 East to remember the pups at home.
— Impress holiday guests with dinner rolls, brioche rolls, potato herb rolls and potato pretzel rolls from Dukes Bread.