We had the good fortune of connecting with Heidi Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heidi, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
One of my favorite quotes is by the American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” This quote has stayed with me throughout my life. It is a reminder to myself that we are capable of thriving the most when we are our truest selves. I often find myself using this as inspiration for my work. Once I started my own business I let go of any restrictions that I had previously held onto. I started to let my personality shine through my pastries as well as my social media and started taking more risks. It was a feeling of freedom. I could not be happier with the connections that have blossomed because I chose this path.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I graduated with a BFA with an emphasis in painting from Wichita State University. And while I have a degree in art, my professional career has for the most part always taken place in a kitchen. Being a self taught pastry chef, going to the public library was essential to my formative years. The cooking and baking section is where I developed my love for pastry. Through trial and error I learned how to bake, and took an interest in vegan baking. Vegan baking became a challenge that I gladly accepted and embraced. I started with lots of failures. Inedible cakes as dense as bricks and lots of tears. As years progressed I spent my time learning new techniques and developed better tasting products and found new ways of incorporating pastry, art and my love for botanical elements. Techniques such as diluting gel food colors with vodka to create watercolor paintings on glaze and fondant. Using buttercream as a painting medium of cakes and poptarts. I also spend most of my time exploring what flavors play well with each other and developing recipes.
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.
We would start with Restaurante Usuluteco. They have the best pupusas and fried yuca in town. Coffee at Leslie Coffee Co for delicious lattes, the finest croissants and éclairs at Reverie. Lava and Tonic for Tiki drinks. Piatto Neapolitan for pizza. Make sure to order the Francesca. We would hang out at Central Standard Brewery. Music at the best dive bar in town, Kirbys Beer Store. Wheat street dogs for handcrafted vegan hot dogs. Thai House-the number 19. Pra-Ram-Long-Song (Green Vegetables & Peanut Curry) with tofu. The Hereafter for an afternoon of shopping vintage and second hand clothing as well as hand crafted items. Palateria la Reyna for espiropapas (a seasoned fried potato shaped like a spiral on a stick) tortas, housemade ice creams, paletas and aguas frescas.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I could not have started my business without the encouragement of my partner Jeff Perritt Jr., within a week of me pitching the idea of starting my own business he made me the most beautiful logo. It was better than anything that I could have envisioned. This gesture gave me the confidence to bring my dream to fruition. I was like this is it, I can do this!
I would also like to give a shout out to my friend Chris Hannemann from Apollo Fermentations who introduced me to the SCORE mentorship program. It is a free mentorship program and valuable resource for people that are interested in starting a business.
Facebook: The Black Fig Bakery LLC