If you love the sticky toffee pudding at Annie Gunn's, the red velvet cake at Carmine's Steak House or the vegan chocolate cake at Olive + Oak, you have Danielle Luisi to thank.
Luisi is the pastry chef and owner of Sweet Pea's Bakery, a bake shop that wholesales desserts to restaurants across St. Louis. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and received pastry and bread training in both Italy and California in the years after. She finally settled in St. Louis, where she worked as the pastry chef at Annie Gunn's for seven years before she started Sweet Pea's.
Luisi wholesales her pastries to restaurants that want premium desserts without the expense of an in-house pastry chef. Her treats include cheesecake, panna cotta, scones, pies, cookies and gooey butter cake in flavors ranging from classic vanilla to chocolate to confetti.
Like many industries that are connected to restaurants, Sweet Pea's has struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a couple of key moves buoyed the business: Customers can now buy their favorite desserts direct from Luisi, and Sweet Pea's gooey butter cake is now available in individual portions at all four Straub's locations.
"The little guys are really the ones that are suffering, and it's really important to buy local," says Luisi.
She hopes to get her sweets into more local markets to sell direct-to-consumer, but in the meantime, customers can order her desserts directly by calling Sweet Pea's. Shelf-stable items can be shipped nationwide, but signatures such as the gooey butter cake, which must be refrigerated, can only be picked up locally.
Sweet Pea's Bakery, 310 Fee Fee Road, Maryland Heights, Missouri, 636.675.3169, sweetpeasbakerycafe.com