SPOTLIGHT - A Squad Bake Shop - Pastry Chef

Some of you may remember in Amber's - A Bride Story, she talked about the wonderful cake tasting that we did when she and I went to Savannah earlier this year - A Squad Bake Shop. In this week's Vendor Spotlight, we get to learn a little bit more about Natasha Gaskill - Pastry Chef to the brides of Savannah.

Tell me a little about your company?

I am a boutique bake shop located in Savannah, GA, specializing in wedding cakes that are both exceptional in taste and styling. I am inspired by everything local and lovely, from the opening of strawberry season, an inspired R&D beer from Service Brewing to one of Katherine Sandoz’s amazing landscapes.

You worked at Lulu’s in Savannah before going into business for yourself. What made you decide to start your own business?

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. In my former life, before baking, I started and operated a recycling company for 13 years in Savannah. I helped start the existing curbside program the city presently uses and effectively put myself out of business and into culinary school. So, while I enjoyed working at Lulus and adored my team there, I think the idea of working for myself again was always sort of bumping around in my head.

“Flannery in Frosting” An edible art piece exhibit for The Flannery O’Connor House. Buttercream (including the face) sugar magnolia and sugar Spanish moss.
“Flannery in Frosting” An edible art piece exhibit for The Flannery O’Connor House. Buttercream (including the face) sugar magnolia and sugar Spanish moss.
Have you always baked?

I have always been obsessed with food. All aspects of food. We always had large gardens and fruit trees growing up. My mother is from India and my father traveled the world when he was in the service; we were exposed to a lot of different foods. We talked a lot about food. We knew a lot about food, how to grow it, where to find it, which led to knowing what to do with it. My older brother is a chef, as well.

What makes you different then the other bakeries in the area?

I like to think I bring some culinary street cred to the game. I treat each wedding cake the same as I do when composing a dessert for a restaurant., taking into account what the season dictates, the bride and groom’s preferences, and culinary trends.

Strawberries, from Coastal Botanical Gardens, picked in the am, jammed in the pm.
Strawberries, from Coastal Botanical Gardens, picked in the am, jammed in the pm.
I know that when we talked before, you mentioned that you like working with local ingredients. How do you find your local vendors?

Primarily Forsyth farmers’ market, but a lot of them are my friends.

Why did you decide to do wedding cakes?

I learned to make sugar flowers from the High Priestess of wedding cakes, Minette Rushing, when I shared a kitchen with her. It was an instant love match, sugar flowers, as well as Minette! Under her encouragement, I found a real passion in wedding cakes, as it used all my skills. Design, baking, crafting, collaboration with clients, collaboration with local businesses and farms, and waxing poetically about food!

Happy in her Kitchen!
Happy in her Kitchen!
What is the most interesting request that you have had from a bride and were you able to help them?

I had a bride change her statement sugar flower from a peony to a stargazer lily, as it had significant meaning to her family. I had never made one before, but I told her I’d figure it out. I did figure it out and figured out along the way to be courageous and willing to give things a try. It is my most favorite flower I have made for a wedding.

From a vendor’s perspective, what is the best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?

Know your budget and be forthcoming about it. Its not a very fun subject, but it is crucial. I am looking to execute your wedding cake beyond your expectations. So are the other vendors you will be meeting with. We all need to know what we are working with though. In the consultations that go the smoothest and that are the most fun, the couple come with both, inspiration pictures and a firm idea on what they are looking to spend. It makes the most of both of our time to get down to the nitty gritty of cost to get to the goods of design that are applicable to your needs.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Oh my gosh..EVERYWHERE!! An interesting person, sweet spring air, the book I am reading, other chefs, fashion, ART, the local food scene….really I am constantly inspired!

Savannah Weddings Magazine. Cover contender.
Savannah Weddings Magazine. Cover contender.
What is your process with brides?

Well, I usually will have a brief convo on the phone, discussing flavors, dislikes, loves, and allergies and set up a date for the tasting/consultation. We then get to meet at my tasting space. It is a beautiful sunroom on the third floor of a historic building on Liberty Street. We look at any inspiration pieces and discuss design. Then we eat cake and drink bubbles and talk about Savannah and smile and laugh because its fun!

How far out do brides usually come to you prior to their wedding?  

The ideal time to talk cake is after a few major choices have already been made, i.e. dress is purchased, venue is booked, overall design is decided. Ideally, four to nine months out. Though, Savannah books up fast! So maybe four months isn’t realistic. Six to nine months out.

What current trends are you seeing with brides today?

Big, stately cakes!!

If you could tell the brides one thing about your business, what would it be?

I am probably as excited for your wedding cake as you!

I hope you have enjoyed our discussion with A Squad Bake Shop today.  Want to know more about them and how they can help you with your event, be sure to follow her on social media:

Website: http://www.asquadbakeshop.com - launching in May Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ASQUADBAKESHOPInstagram: https://instagram.com/asquadbakeshop/Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/asquadbakeshop/

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