The Tastemakers: Joy the Baker
Welcome to The Tastemakers, a series in which we chat with the most talented, connected and influential people in the world of food and drink.
Joy Wilson started her blog, Joy the Baker, in 2008 after getting fired from her bakery job. "It's embarrassing," she says, "but just absolutely true."
Taking inspiration from much-loved food blogs like Smitten Kitchen, Wilson began snapping pictures of her baking endeavors with her Nokia camera phone, intending to blog them for her own wedding cake business.
"I soon realized I was terrible at making wedding cakes, and then it just turned into a regular baking blog," she says.
Years later, Joy the Baker has almost 200,000 fans on Facebook and more than 300,000 followers on Instagram, and has turned blogging, recipe-testing and cookbook-writing into a full-time job. We chatted with Wilson about her new cookbook, guilty pleasures and latest baking endeavor, Drake on Cake.
What does a typical day look like for you?
"I'm not a very good schedule person; I'm just a tornado around my house, trying to figure out what to do all day. Usually, I make a recipe or two for the site or the cookbook I'm writing, and I spend a very not-glamorous amount of time on the computer editing photos, typing up recipes or watching Hulu. And then sprinkled into that is writing Drake lyrics on cake and going to yoga."
Tell us more about Drake on Cake.
"It's ridiculous. I think it's the silliest thing when people ask me serious questions about it. I'm like, 'You know it rhymes, right? That's about it.' But it's great. I thought of it about a year ago, and I didn't know what to do with it, but then six months later I thought, You know what, whatever, I'm just gonna write Drake lyrics on cake. And that was that. I am such a big Drake fan: He is prolific. Now I listen to him a weird amount, because I'm always looking for clever lyrics."
What is always in your fridge?
Do you think moving to New Orleans has affected your baking or cooking at all?
"It has me eating way more crawfish and frying way more things. The culture down here is so celebratory and full of very specific old Creole food that you can't have anywhere else in the country, so it's a really special place. And I can definitely make some mean beignets now."
Are there any ingredients you're tired of eating or seeing on menus?
"Not really; I'll eat anything. I have this habit of eating the same thing every day for about a week until I'm out of it. So being tired of eating something doesn't really enter my brain."
What's the most exciting thing you've worked on in the last year?
"I'm finishing up my brunch book, which comes out next spring, and it just takes forever and a half to write a cookbook, so I'm really excited to finish that. I wanted to incorporate more savory elements into my next book, and I thought brunch would be the best way to do that. Lunch is kind of boring, and I make myself scrambled eggs for dinner, so I have no business writing about that.
And then Drake on Cake has been so fun, because it's just not very serious."
What's your go-to guilty pleasure snack and TV show?
"Really anything from a package that I don't have to make myself. But hot dogs are my favorite. And not anything fancy, just Hebrew National with yellow mustard and sauerkraut and a squishy store-bought bun, with Ruffles potato chips and, like, eight to 12 Oreo cookies. That's the best meal in the world. And then, I shouldn't tell you this, but I love watching old episodes of Dateline. It's so good (and the husband is always the killer)."
Who do you most admire in the food industry?
"When I was growing up, I watched a lot of Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, and I remember sitting very close to the TV and watching them. I also love Nigella Lawson. She just kills it: She's able to make really beautiful simple food, be a boss and also be sexy and exactly who she is. I just want to be like her."
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