The baking scene in Buffalo is heating up. And now there is a passionate new player in town, whose name is Jason “JB” Gonzalez (JB’s Bakeshop). Since moving to Buffalo a month ago (from Jersey City, NJ), Jason has not only immersed himself into the Buffalo baking scene, he’s also fallen for Buffalo.
Taking a look around JB’s Instagram page, it’s easy to see that he’s the real deal when it comes to professional baking. From over-the-top birthday cakes to outrageously sweet donut creations, JB does not mess around when demonstrating his outrageous talents in the kitchen.
“I am a professional baker and have appeared on Food Network’s Bakers vs Fakers and more recently Chopped Sweets,” said JB. “I just recently was a first time Buffalo vendor at the Totally Sweets Buffalo Market at RiverWorks on Feb 11th and 12th and sold out both days.”
Aside from baking for events, and fulfilling custom creations and special orders, JB is also embarking upon a new series of classes, which he feels will be right up Buffalo’s alley.
“I am bringing a unique and fun Airbnb experience to the area that I have been doing for 3 years now, called Cake and Sip,” JB explained. “I have already booked 4 in Buffalo. The event is hosted at the guest’s location of choice. I bring each guest a 6” cake which I teach how to carve, crumb coat, and frost. I then teach each guest to decorate with fondant and piping, all while sipping wine which I supply (juice or soda for those under 21). This is a unique experience for the area and is, so far, a 5 star all around per Airbnb.”
It turns out that when he was living in Jersey City, JB owned a brick and mortar bakery, called JB’s Bake Shop.
“I had the shop for two years, but I’ve been baking for 16 years,” said JB. “14 of those years were out of my home. Now I’m in Buffalo, building up a new clientele, before (hopefully one day) opening a retail bakery. My fiancé lived in Buffalo when he went to Buff State – it’s been 12 years since he lived here. But we would visit Syracuse and Buffalo a lot, for a change in atmosphere. We ended up falling in love with Buffalo – it’s very updated since he last lived here, and we’re excited to see so much happening. Things are really starting to take off.”
Since moving here at the beginning of the year, JB has been exploring Buffalo’s food and market opportunities. He said that he was completely surprised by the overwhelming response at the Totally Sweet Buffalo Winterfest.
“On Saturday I completely sold out by 2:30pm,” he said. “Then, on Sunday, the vendors started showing up at my booth very early, because they had heard about the response from customers who were walking around talking about the baked goods. They kept on asking, ‘Are you the guys from Jersey?’ [laughing]. I didn’t even have to advertise – it was all word of mouth. It was actually overwhelming. It was my first market here, so I didn’t know what to expect.”
When I asked JB what makes for a great market experience, he said, “You have to be a good sales person, with a cheery personality. Then there’s the visual presentation. I didn’t just have a bunch of bagged cookies sitting there – I put a lot of effort into making it visually appealing. People would buy something, and then later on they would come back to try something else. The response was incredible.”
Hearing that the response to his baked goods was beyond expectations bodes well for JB and his aspirations. He mentioned that people in the Elmwood Village (where he lives) have been hearing about him, and saying that he needs to open a shop on Elmwood. Surprisingly, there is not a bakery of this nature in the neighborhood.
“I want to build my name up first,” he said. “And my clientele. I’m doing that by attending the markets, but I’m also hosting Cake and Sip classes. I started them in Jersey City, where they were very successful. And now they are starting to take off in Buffalo. It’s actually built around the Airbnb experience, where people can book me to come teach them how to bake. But I also go to people’s homes, or any venue for that matter. It’s a new experience for the area. It’s like a traveling bake shop. It’s perfect for a date night, and it’s nice for people visiting Buffalo, as well as for locals… to try out something different.”
From whoopie pies to wedding cakes, JB is baking it all these days… and he’s having fun in the process.
“I’ve always been in some form of entertainment,” he said. “I was a child actor and dancer. I’ve always been in the arts. It’s in my mind, body, and heart. I’m so happy that people here are appreciating what I’m doing. Everyone here is so kind and nice. It’s not like that in some other places I’ve been. Buffalo has a different vibe and atmosphere. I’m really happy here.”
And we’re happy to have JB. Here’s to many successful years ahead [toasting], and hopefully a full-fledge bake shop down the road.
In the meantime, be sure to look for JB at a local pop-up market, or book him for a cake baking gig. He and his sweet treats are guaranteed to be the hit of the gathering.