You consider yourselves “dessert archeologists.” Is there a particular dessert or baked good you discovered on a research trip that stands out?
ML: In college, before Baked NYC was even an idea, I was skiing in Aspen, Colorado, with a bunch of friends. We stayed at the Hotel Jerome, and they are known for their milkshakes made with bourbon. I remember thinking how horrible it would probably taste to put bourbon in a milkshake, but then I tried it. It was so pleasurable and tasty! I remember thinking how innovative it was and being impressed by how people were doing things with booze and desserts that hadn’t been done before.
RP: One dessert stands out to me in particular because of how simple and trivial it was. I have a soft spot for German desserts. They are quirky, pretty, and composed, but the flavor is so different. We were visiting Germany, and we had a German Christmas cookie, a chocolate sugar-style cookie wrapped around a Bounty candy bar. They cut the candy bars in little pieces, and wrapped the cookies around them. That was it. It tasted like a truffle in a way. We brought that recipe back with us and tweaked it by dipping the cookie in chocolate. I love going somewhere new, discovering something so simple, bringing it back to play with, and making it my own.
How did the idea to open a coffee and dessert shop come about?
ML: At the time we met at the ad agency about 12 years ago, there weren’t a ton of bakeries in New York. Most were either French or Italian, or focused on cupcakes only. So we saw the need for a place like Baked NYC and went for it.
RP: The thought of owning a coffee shop was always something brewing inside me. Honestly, the impetus for me was when 9/11 happened in 2001. I was designing medical websites, and I was getting paid well, but I was unhappy and my creativity was totally dry. I asked myself, “If the world were to end tomorrow, what would you want to be doing?” Then Matt and I started brainstorming. I knew he wanted a bakery, and I wanted a coffee shop. We merged ideas, and that’s how Baked NYC was born. At the time we opened, most coffee shops were your “Friends” style places with huge, ugly couches and giant cups of coffee. That style has evolved since then, but at the time, we wanted to do something a little different from the trend. We wanted to create a minimal and modern environment where people could come to get crazy-good baked goods and really good coffee.