An American Tale: Baked NYC

An American Tale with Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Baked NYC’s Tribeca location / Photography by Michel Arnaud

If Renato were a dessert, what would he be?

RP: I would be our Brooklyn Black Out cake. Just because I want to be in it. I was also born and raised in Brooklyn, so I guess you could say I’m a Brooklynite.

ML: Renato is a classic chocolate diner cake. That’s his favorite dessert, and he loves that it’s so iconic.

If Matt were a dessert, what would he be?

ML: It changes. Right now I would be the most perfect vanilla cake. I think vanilla is the new chocolate. In the past, it seems like everyone always just threw it in every dessert as an afterthought, but now I think of it as this powerful, stately ingredient.

RP: I make fun of Matt because he has the palate of a seven-year-old. When he eats out, he’ll always go for the simplest thing on the menu. So I think of him as a good chocolate chip cookie.

You’re known for making baked goods honoring unique and obscure holidays. What are some of your favorites?

RP: On Dolly Parton’s birthday, we make Dolly’s Doughnut, and on Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday, we make a blueberry muffin. We make the traditional Italian meringue cookies served in Italy for La Befana, which is an Italian holiday that coincides with Epiphany on January 6, when an old witch goes around to bring goodies to all the children.

What is your biggest baking failure?

ML: In the early days, we tried to make a chocolate cake with lard. We thought it would be so cool, and it was a nasty failure.

Why do you think you work together so well as partners?

RP: It’s interesting. Matt and I tend to have different approaches to managing and running the business, but we meet at our flavor profile. We tend to have the same tastes, and I think that’s the most important thing. When we taste something, we’ll usually come to the same conclusion about the dessert. It’s easy for us to develop and come up with something that we like and want to sell.

ML: Renato and I mostly have a shared palate; what we like overlaps 90 percent of the time. But it gets interesting when our taste paths diverge. He might like a dessert full force that I wouldn’t necessarily put on the menu, but he would. We allow for that though, so that it doesn’t feel like such a singular vision. It brings a robust personality to the bakery.

What do you see for the future of Baked NYC?

RP: I would love to see more Baked NYC locations. Not in a sense where we have 200 locations and counting, all in New York, but I’d love to see 10 locations on a global scale. It would be great to have a Baked in Chicago or Los Angeles, but it’d be super cool to open bakeries in Rome, London, Paris, and Tokyo.

 

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