By some standards, Jason Hisley has followed a traditional path from his grandmother's kitchen to La Cakerie, the bakery that will open this week on West Chesapeake Avenue in Towson.
He fell in love with baking as a young child, while kneading the dough his grandmother made for her Czechoslovakian breads. He then studied baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and, after honing his craft in Switzerland, returned home to Bel Air to bake for the masses at Flavor Cupcakery.
But it's the notoriety gained on a pair of television competitions, The Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" and "Sweet Genius," that are helping shine a spotlight on the bakery.
"When I was getting ready for school, the whole concept of bakers and cake decorators being huge … was taking off," Hisley, 24, said. "It's transformed from an old-world tradition where your dad's a baker, your granddad's a baker, so you're a baker, to more of something that people can go and train for."
La Cakerie will celebrate its grand opening beginning Saturday morning, Nov. 3, and extend it throughout the weekend.
The new bakery will utilize both Hisley's training and the new-age flair that has transformed his vocation.
"Long story short, an opportunity kind of fell in my lap to open up my own bakery and kind of utilize all my talents as a pastry chef," he said. "We're doing a fully-operational bakery from your morning pastries, like muffins, cookies and scones, to chocolates and breads to chocolates and cakes. It really is everything."
And that's not to mention the gourmet cupcake line, which has followed Hisley from Flavor Cupcakery's flagship store in Bel Air to their second shop in Cockeysville and now, down York Road to his La Cakerie.
But in all of his travels and training, Hisley has found that just as important as the ingredients — he, like many, prefers local and seasonal — is the experience conveyed.
"The best advice I ever got was from the first chef I had in school, who said if you want to get into cakes and cupcakes, don't consider yourself a baker — consider yourself an entertainer," Hisley said. "The product, it should taste really, really great, but they want a whole experience.
"If you're sitting down with a bride for a wedding consultation, she needs to be made to feel special. When someone walks into the store, it needs to be beautiful."
In conjunction with the shop in Towson, Hisley and his business partner, Adam Klein, are opening a commercial bakery off Reisterstown Road that will handle some of their custom orders and do preparation work for the Chesapeake Avenue location.
It's a large undertaking for Hisley and Klein, 21 — so much so that they sought and signed on private investors to float the company at its onset.
"(They) really like the concept we're doing, and thought that between his business knowledge and advertising abilities and my recognition so far, we would have a really great bakery concept," Hisley said.
Now, all that's left is the execution, which Hisley is confident he and his staff will pull off.
"It's exciting," he said. "This is the dream since 15. This is what I went to school for so I think it's more excitement (than nerves). I hope everyone enjoys it … and people love coming to the store."