Joy Wilson, baking instructor, food stylist, and author of three cookbooks has talent and personality in spades. Her social media presence reflects her popularity and devoted following attracted by her wit, sharp photography, and creative takes on everything from Sunday morning brunch in the Marigny to cocktailing in the Quarter to making beignets at home on a whim. Her infectious enthusiasm for baking is meant to build confidence in home cooks and her imaginative twists on the classics are just as approachable as she is.
Joy moved to New Orleans from California four years ago and after trying out several neighborhoods for vibe, settled in a double shotgun in the Bywater that she lovingly restored. On one entire side of the house called The Bakehouse she conducts her workshops, cooking classes, and recipe testing, and on the other she lives with her orange Maine Coon cat, Tron. Every inch of the house oozes with innate style and crafty finds making the whole setting congruent with her philosophy on baking, food presentation, and the comforts of just out of the oven goodness.
Her home is decorated with a clever mix of estate sale finds, commissioned pieces, and big-box items artfully arranged with personal touches and a lifetime of collecting cool stuff. The dramatic sinker cypress dining room table with a burnished steel base and thick open shelving in the kitchen were fabricated by GoodWood Nola; the vintage armchairs upholstered in beefy black linen were purchased at The Sunday Shop on Magazine Street. Her gallery wall is filled with thrift show art and family heirlooms that she cleverly reframed in antique frames scored at tag sales or giltwood frames from Michael’s during double coupon days. One of her favorites is a portrait of her Aunt made at the L.A. County Fair in 1965. Routine antique scouting day trips to Scott, near Lafayette, yield side chairs, a buffet, Bern pottery, and an eclectic roundup of kitchen and serving pieces reminiscent of simpler times.
Joy hosts The Bakehouse workshops, classes, and special events all year long. The upcoming calendar is brimming with inspired seasonal classes such as Louisiana strawberry pie making, a crawfish beignet pop-up, and a make and eat brunch workshop that will make your mouth water just thinking about it. The Bakehouse is also perfect for bachelorette parties or neighbors’ night out where you rollup your sleeves with a group of friends, create cocktails, and bake enough goodies to bring home to the little ones. Lately, Joy has handmade the most beautiful flowers from colorful crepe paper that she says is a great form of relaxation. Each blossom requires about three to seven hours to complete depending on the bloom and she is well on her way to a fantastic art installation on her living room wall – one posey at a time.
Joy's kitchen is the heart of her home. Hard-working Kitchenaid appliances, a well-loved and used marble island, and mixing bowls, pans, and pottery dot every surface. "Everything has to be functional. Nothing is a prop," says Joy. “I love good glass mixing bowls in every size and my pottery is beautiful and can multitask." A rundown of her favorite sources include: "Rouses, the best grocery store in the country; Bellegarde Bakery, the only stone flour mill in the city that sells pristine flour; and for meats it's Ideal Market in Mid-City." Brunch is her favorite meal and her recipes include innovative modern dishes, savory desserts, and delicious recipes for her favorite morning cocktail – the Michelada – a lighter Bloody Mary with Mexican beer as an ingredient. Yes, please, I’ll have another.
As Joy says, "New Orleans is a celebratory city. There's so much culture and history on every corner. My goal is to share my passion for baking and teach people the skills needed to be confident in the kitchen. My parents taught me and I like to think of my workshops more like pep talks!" Her engaging and often humorous blog can be found on her website – joythebaker.com – and you won’t want to miss her delicious Instagram photography at TheBakehouseNola. Recipes for Earl Grey ricotta waffles with sweetened cream and honey and roasted vegetable quiche can be found in her cookbooks, along with twists on classic brunch beverages like freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for mimosas. Tips on how to use grandmother's china in a totally modern way and simple ideas for using greenery and flowers as table decorations are the icing on the cake, pardon the pun.
This article appeared in our Spring 2018 issue.