Snickerdoodles Bakery & Coffee House had a big job to complete after the Baltimore Ravens won their first game of the season, beating the Buffalo Bills, 13-7, Sunday afternoon. Bakery owners Rob and Julia Gonzalez, of Hampstead, have been contracted to create celebratory cakes after each of the team's wins.
"We'll do a different flavor every week if they win," Rob Gonzalez explained. "This week's flavor will be almond cake with a raspberry filling. We hope to be able to make them fans of our product and help the business grow."
Gonzalez said each cake takes about two hours to construct and decorate. The bakery is contracted to make two cakes per winning game, one for the players and coaches at the facility and a smaller cake for the Ravens support staff.
According to the Ravens Director of Food Service Tenille Moore, of Westminster, Snickerdoodles was chosen "because we've had a lot of players and staff get their cakes there before."
"His cakes are amazing," Moore said. "They're moist, flavorful, and sweet — but not too sweet — and he has a variety of flavors to choose from and mix and match."
Moore said the cakes are special treats for the players.
"They are usually on a performance-based diet," Moore explained. "The closest thing they get to a cookie is usually a Fig Newton. Winning a game allows them to have a cake. They love it when they see it and there's nothing left."
Ravens Food Service Manager Colleen Jones, of Westminster, said she would recommend Snickerdoodles to anyone.
"I've had their sugar cookies and they were wonderful. At a birthday party, I had a strawberry shortcake," Jones said. "Every time I've had their cakes and cookies, the appearance has been good and the taste has been good. I would recommend that anyone should go there."
Gonzalez said he graduated from Towson University with a criminal justice degree but decided he wanted to be in the restaurant business. He attended the New England Culinary Institute, in Montpelier, Vermont, before returning to Maryland to work as a sous chef at Rudy's in Westminster. Julia Gonzalez, Gonzalez's wife, said the couple met at the restaurant in 1986 while she was working as a waitress.
"As a young apprentice, I wanted to work with the best chefs, so I worked at Rudy's," Rob Gonzalez said.
He said he has always enjoyed working with pastries and eventually moved back to Vermont to teach pastries at NECI. Fourteen years ago, he secured a job with The Classic Catering People, of Owings Mills, and moved back to Hampstead. He worked there as an executive pastry chef until he opened a cash-and-carry bakery in Hampstead.
The couple said they moved to their current location on Hampstead's Main Street around Labor Day weekend 10 years ago. The location features a coffee shop, sitting and gaming areas, and Wi-Fi. The couple said they plan to open a second location in Baltimore County.
"This [location] is more exemplary of what I wanted to do," Rob Gonzalez said.
The Gonzalezes work as a team every day. Rob Gonzalez said he does a lot of the fondant and cutout work, and Julia Gonzalez does a lot of the decorating.
The couple has also raised four children, Brittany, 31, Nathan, 27, and twins Molly and Luke, 20. They have one grandson, Brittany's son, Colton, who Julia said is the bakery's "official cookie tester."
The Gonzalezes have 18 employees, many of whom are part-time, and nine kitchen helpers.
"We have some employees that have been with us since we opened," Rob Gonzalez said. "We take on interns and try to guide them. Because culinary school is so expensive, it's important for aspiring chefs to actually work in the industry prior to going to school. It's not like TV. The reality is that it's long, hard, laborious work.
"The rewarding part is putting out a product that you know people are going to enjoy," Rob Gonzalez said. "Every day is a new day. It's important to be consistent across the board. Consistency and quality is key."