We had the good fortune of connecting with Aubrey Monserrate and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aubrey, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think of risk as something we fear because there’s the loaming of the unknown. Most of the time we stay in the ‘safe lane’ rather then take the ‘risk lane’. I used to be one of those people, and I honestly still am at times. I’ve spent a lot of my life in the ‘safe zone,’ getting small tastes of risk. What held me back was that fear of the unknown, of failure, of disappointment! Until I left the ‘safe lane’ years ago, completely changing career paths, moving across the United States, and starting a brand new life. I entered an industry filled with risk. One where you’re successful one day and bankrupt the next. All these risky maneuvers lead up to the greatest one of all, quitting my unfulfilling job to create my own business in terrible economic times.

Through all the risks I’ve taken, starting with turning my life 180 degrees, I learned to embrace the unknown. Because living in ‘safe lane’ is boring and anticlimactic. Risk is absolutely, insanely terrifying yet it can be the most satisfying act you’ve done in years. Risk got me to Arizona. Risk made me Valedictorian at the Number One Culinary School in the U.S. Risk let me work in multiple states for some of the biggest names in the Culinary Industry. Risk had me leave my job. Now, risk has me working to create the business I’ve fantasized about, turning into my current reality.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career has been fast paced and all over the place! Years ago, I was in the exact opposite career field. I was taking a full load of classes, working three jobs, and depressed doing an Independent Major in Forensic Anthropology with a Double Minor in Biology & Criminal Justice. It was during this whole mess of busy, busy, busy, that I made the decision to drop everything to go to Culinary School.

If you ask me on any random day why I do what I do, you’ll probably get a short, “Because I Love It.” Which is true, but my real motivation for change was this desire to create something that can let people have a taste of happiness. As someone who was diagnosed with Celiac way too late in life, I just wanted to have something that tastes great, is affordable, and won’t land me in the hospital. Sometimes even the lather isn’t guaranteed. So combining a love of food, a passion to bring joy, and a want for a cupcake that doesn’t taste like chocolate sand while costing $7.50, I set out to make allergen friendly treats more convenient.

From the moment I made that career change, my life was a whirlwind of action. I moved from East to West, ran into five too may roadblocks with the Government to get paperwork, multiple moving pains, stress, anxiety, the works! Everything mellowed out just enough to get twisted up again when I started my educational training. While Culinary School is fun and interesting (and yummy), it is also HARD. It was like being tossed into a pool not knowing what water was while being told to sink or swim. The training you get is militaristic, which I was thankfully used to, and meant to break you down so you come back stronger. It seems harsh, but that’s how it is for a woman in the kitchen.

Now every bit of my training was compacted into 18 months. There were 8 hour kitchen classes combined with hours of practice homework. On top of classes and practice work, I also worked for my school. I was a tutor, class liaison, a bakeshop assistant, a special events worker, and a student event assistant. This all culminated into 12-14 hour days to get the maximum experience I could. Which, it did. During my time, I was taught by two Certified Master Bakers, worked for Ghirardelli in San Francisco, worked for Thomas Keller and was offered a position in Bouchon Bakery, interned for Seattle’s Number One bakery, Bakery Nouveau, catered Weddings for Celebrities’, and assisted in creating the largest winery gathering, Napa Valley Premier. I graduated Valedictorian of my class and proceeded to work for my school after graduation. Unfortunately, I lost this position a few months in due to the beginning of the pandemic. After months of lockdown, I was able to obtain a job with a startup as the Pastry Chef. During this time, I created the whole menu, and an additional seven menus on top of that in 10 months. While I was doing what I loved, working with fully Gluten Free and allergen free based foods, the environment was terrible. The offhanded way I was treated and disrespected in my position lead me to leave and pursue my own business.

While my journey has been very fast paced with some steep down turns, I wouldn’t change it. All of these experiences have been lessons on what I should and shouldn’t do. Perseverance, combined with a want to be successful on my own terms, aided me through these challenges’ and helped me grow. I learned to take what I want and run with it. If something goes wrong, then that’s a lesson I can implement next time. I also learned that people want to see you fail. Sadly, not everyone has the best intentions when it comes to the success of others.

At the end of the day, the one thing I’d want the world to know about my brand is that I just want to create delicious treats for all the people who struggle to get it everyday. If you have celiac like myself, you deserve something that isn’t cardboard. If you’re vegan, simple baked goods should be easier to come by. Should you be diabetic, you shouldn’t have to worry over the sugar content in a cupcake. All I want to do is continue to create a little bite of magic with your next cookie or cake, without compromising your health or wallet.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Funnily enough, this just happened! I’m friends with lots of foodies so new restaurant’s are always a most. Food wise, I always try to take someone to Postino’s because the wine happy hour is the best. I’ll also drop into Hash Kitchen, 24 Carrots, Pomegranate Café, Brat Haus, Bobby Q’s BBQ, Little Miss BBQ, House of Tricks, Giving Tree Café, The Porch and Pita Jungle. All these places offer items that are already gluten free or can be adapted. If I’m looking to impress with cocktails, The Brickyard in Downtown Chandler is the way to go! Other drinking atmosphere’s that need to be experienced are The Black Rabbit, Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Platform 18 at Century Grand, Top of the Rock, and again, Hash Kitchen. But I can’t forget the more ‘hole in the wall’ places as well. I’ll take someone by Sumo Snow for some excellent Boba, Shady Park for ramen, Joyride Taco House for tacos and margaritas, Dark Hall Coffee for a fresh brew, CoreLife for that healthy yet happy meal, and so many more. I also just have to have some bakeries on my list! Hand’s down, Sweet D’s Bakeshop. I love their variety and specialty menus. JL Patisseire is worth a drop-in, as well as Essence Bakery Café, La Bella Vie Bakery, and Indulge Irresponsibly.

While food and drinks will always be the focus of what I should my fellow industry friends’, Arizona has too much scenery to be ignored. Being located in South Mountain means beautiful views every morning with coffee and plenty of beginner hiking trails. Any other hiking leads to a day tripe to Sedona. I always head to the Peace Park first for a mediation and then hop by the Turquoise McDonald’s. I may also hope onto the Bell Rock Hike or Cathedral Rock Trail to reach some of Sedona’s finest vortexes. If I’m with a hiking enthusiast, the Devil’s Bridge is a must. Once exhausted, I’ll pop back down the Mountain to Tlaquepaque for local art and dessert. The Secret Garden Café is highly recommended, if you can get a seat. To finish the Sedona trip off, I have to stop into my favorite shop, Crystal Magic and get lost in the gems. If you’re lucky though, you might be able to catch a UFO tour or drop into Jerome for a Ghost Tour. Coming back from the red rock, I also have to dedicate trips to Papago Park, Old Town Scottsdale, Downtown Chandler, Mesa Grande, Camelback Mountains, Downtown Tempe, West-Wind Glendale Drive-in, Tombstone, Saguaro National Park, Bisbee, and the Desert Botanical Gardens. Honestly, I’ll need a few weeks to just show Phoenix!

You can just go for a drive with no destination in mind and manage to find some place explore. There are limitless offerings throughout the desert for every type of person.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Top Shoutout has to completely belong to my mother. She was the one who stood beside me going through all my growing pains. It was her encouragement that gave me the push to start my own business, rather then getting stuck in the ‘what if’ loop like I’m known to do. Without her, I wouldn’t be here, writing this, and taking a chance on the impossible. I appreciate her everyday for what I’ve done and what I’ll be able to do.

I should also give a small Shoutout to all my Pastry Instructors’ and Chefs. They’re the ones who taught me to develop my abilities, giving me years of knowledge to run free with and create delicious masterpieces’!

Instagram: @thekitchenw1tches

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aubrey-monserrate-349a3436

Facebook: The Kitchen Witches AZ

Other: Email: customcake.witches@gmail.com WhatsApp: Kitchen Witches

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