We had the good fortune of connecting with Bronté Weiss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bronté, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
Turn any negative into drive and ambition! I’ve been in the culinary world since I was 16. I am 29 now. And in those 13 years, I’ve experienced many of the highs and lows of working in this industry. One of my first restaurant experiences, after culinary school, was as a dessert line pastry chef in a prestigious restaurant. I was working directly with the executive pastry chef, learning the menu and how to function in a professional kitchen. When he could have been a mentor, encouraging and supportive, he was abusive and condescending. He created an atmosphere that was tense and unforgiving. One evening, I made a plating error and he screamed that I was a failure and would never make it in this industry. Instead of quitting, I took his ugly criticism and turned it into ambition and drive. I worked harder and wouldn’t give up. And every job I’ve had since, whenever I struggle or want to give up, I hear his voice and I persevere. And, it is in those moments I become a better pastry chef… and a better person.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I was named after the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Three women authors my mom admired since she was a teen, who were fierce, independent and determined to blaze their own trail in the patriarchal world of 19th-Century England. They relied on their instincts, creativity and deep belief that women could follow their dreams, even if they had to make concessions like using male pseudonyms, to get their work read in the beginning.
As a trained dancer from childhood, discipline and creative expression are part of my DNA. I discovered my passion for baking in high school and discovered that – like dance – once you’ve mastered the basics, you can unleash your creativity and make something completely your own.
Recognizing this was my passion, I trained professionally at the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and interned under Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Beverly Hills under renowned pastry chef, Sherry Yard. I began working as a pastry chef at eateries throughout Los Angeles, including Craft Restaurant, Bazaar at the SLS Hotel, Huckleberry, and Eataly Los Angeles, where I was a member of an all-female baking team for two years. I loved being surrounded by that female energy and knew I wanted to create something of my own, but I wasn’t sure if I would ever be ready to do so.
During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown of 2020, when restaurants were forced to close all over the country, I lost a new job I had just started on March 16th! Not knowing what to do with myself, I started baking for my family, friends and people in my family’s building. Orders began to pour in. My Mom, an entrepreneur and former tech CEO, and I recognized this incredible opportunity in March 2021, we launched Bronte Bakes, our e-commerce dessert business offering my signature decadent cookie bars, bites, cake pops and truffles. We started with pick up only and the response was incredible! In July, we moved into our commercial kitchen and began local delivery in Los Angeles, and anticipate national delivery by the end of 2021. It’s been a whirlwind experience.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think all of Santa Monica is a great place to take people who have never been to LA, or are looking to have a great time. There’s so much to do on Main Street and 3rd street. From bar hopping, to night clubs, to shopping. Always a great time. I’d definitely take them to Runyon for a hike, then to the beach to soak up the sun!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am fortunate to have an incredible inner circle that begins with my parents. Their financial and emotional support have been invaluable. My father is my biggest cheerleader… no request is ever too small. From supply runs to the grocery store during covid, (because of my Type 1 Diabetes, I wasn’t secure enough to venture out in public), to washing massive amounts of dishes, to recipe taste-testing, to sharing our first desserts with colleagues and clients. He is the brilliant salesperson every nascent business needs! My mother is my partner and CEO. I knew the combination of her entrepreneurial, startup background and activism would help us successfully launch an ecommerce dessert business and help me overcome any fears I had about starting my own company. She inspires me to dig deeper, to go further than I thought possible, and to enjoy what I am most passionate about… baking! I am grateful to have them as my parents. Their teachings on what it really takes to create a business have been instrumental in my growth as an entrepreneur.
Facebook: Bronte Bakes