Gabby Watson, 22, has spent her whole life so far in restaurants.
The Sykesville native grew up helping her father, Keith Watson, a chef, at the Crab Shanty in Ellicott City when she was a child, and at E. W. Beck’s in Sykesville throughout middle and high school.
“I grew up [at the Crab Shanty], running around the walk-ins, doing whatever I could and helping with prep, baking,” Watson told the Times this week, standing outside her future bakery in Sykesville.
After two years helping her father at the Dandelion Bakery Bistro in Glenelg, she is taking the Watson legacy back to Sykesville, at 7556 Main Street, where Dandelion Bakery will open in early 2019.
The young pastry chef took her love of baking, and her experience, to the Culinary Institute of America after she graduated from Century High School in 2014 — and has been using her newfound skills at the family restaurant in Glenelg since returning.
Now she is going to put her education to creative use in the bakery she will be running, Watson said, with plans to craft artisan breads, and desserts with elaborate designs and flavors like Earl Grey tea and kumquat.
And she is excited to become a part of the bustling downtown Sykesville scene, and play a role in the evolution of her hometown.
“We are definitely bringing in more diversity, which is nice,” she said. “It used to be just clothing shops and now it’s nice to have the French Twist — where you can sit and have a coffee and relax — and ice cream. Every Main Street needs ice cream.
“I love Cowboys & Angels and the distillery is beautiful addition,” said Watson.
“I think just being on Main Street, doing all the events an festivals, it’s something we’ve missed in Glenelg,” she said. “They’re really trying to bring more vendor shops, more hands-on people coming to the stores [here].”
Watson also said she believes Dandelion Bakery will have an audience better suited to the products she wants to bake.
She said she did some creative baking in Glenelg, but found she had more success there without the frills.
“They wanted simple,” said Watson.
And she couldn’t bake bread in Glenelg because the restaurant didn’t have the equipment — something she said Sykesville residents are asking for.
“Here it will be a little bit more like the bakeries you would find in New York: breads, entremets [like Tiramisu, opera pistachio, lemon blueberry twist and chocolate mousse] things I learned in school,” said Watson. “I want to try them here, more individual desserts. Leaning towards the French-style, with macarons, cream puffs, baguettes.”
Downtown Sykesville Connection Executive Director Julie Della-Maria said the Watsons brought some samples of their baked goods to a recent merchant’s meeting, and that Dandelion Bakery is a welcome addition to the town.
“It was very impressive,” she said this week. “Now we are just waiting for them to open.”
Items locals can expect to find on the Dandelion Bakery menu come early 2019 include morning pastries — like cranberry-orange and gluten-free scones and homemade pop tarts — baguettes, focaccia and challah breads, cookies, fruit tarts, cheesecake, pies and cakes.