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Felicia Mayden on creating pastry with personality

This baker wants to turn the Chicago café Lovage into a warm and welcoming oasis


Felicia Mayden has plans to open her own coffeeshop someday. In the meantime, she is working hard to bring her staff to the next level as executive pastry chef at the Ace Hotel’s bakery café Lovage in Chicago.

Whether with complex and airy laminated dough or sweets that evoke family and childhood, Mayden is striving to create a pastry experience that has personality.

“We try to bring a piece of ourselves literally into everything,” she said.

Originally from Chicago, Mayden graduated from the baking and pastry arts and hospitality management program at Kendell College and worked in restaurants such as GT Fish & Oyster, a Boka Restaurant Group concept, with Sarah Jordan — who Mayden called “a beacon” in her career.

“Following her was probably the best thing for me,” she said. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Lovage in Chicago is named for a former bakery café in an Ace Hotel property in London. “That’s closed,” she said. “But this is paying respects to how popular that coffeeshop was.”

And Mayden is attracting national attention for her work there.

The pastry chef competed on “Best Baker in America” on the Food Network with Carla Hall as host.

She also participated in a virtual bake sale called Bakers Against Racism last year, baking items to raise money for organizations that support equality and justice. Mayden’s items supported I C.A.R.E. Ministries OSTP, which provides after-school care to kids in Chicago through academics, holistic and spiritual empowerment.

During the pandemic, she also worked with a program called Neighbor Loaves through the Artisan Grain Collaborative, which supports regional farmers. Mayden bakes bread made with locally grown and milled flours that consumers can purchase and donate to food pantries and community groups, bringing healthful food to those in need.

Listen to Mayden talk about her plans for the future, learning to teach and the legacy of a really great zucchini bread.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

TAGS: Chefs
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