We had the good fortune of connecting with Victoria Poull and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Victoria, why did you pursue a creative career?
As a young child, all I knew was that I loved books and I loved dessert, so it made sense that I wanted to be a baker or librarian. Not the proud owner of a chic indie bookstore but a librarian, because obviously work as a librarian would be reading books all day and life as a baker would be wolfing down eclairs. One year my Nonny gave me a stack of books about these young friends who started their own catering business and I fell in love! That was when the idea of starting my own business began.
Along with my love for pastries and art, I also have a huge passion for art and working as a pastry chef definitely feeds that creative side of my soul: I love being able to come in, look at any extra ingredients I have from other projects, and use them to create something new. Even more than that, I love having the creative freedom to make a piece of art. Each one of my cakes are one of a kind; even if you ask me to make it similar to another piece, I still manage to add my own touch of whimsy to make it slightly different than the last.
Pastries are their own sort of fashion. They have a season, a decade, and just like fashion, trends come and go and even come back again. I’m always researching old and new trends alike to see how customers will react and see what is worth delving into more deeply and what needs to go back to the drawing board. When I’m decorating, I want to make something that someone walking past will have to do a double-take. I’m looking for a “What is that and how can I get everyone over tonight to enjoy it?” reaction. Because what is the point of having a beautiful cake if you don’t have anyone to share it with?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My professional baking career started in 2012. I had been attending Robert Morris University in Chicago working on my Bachelor of Applied Science with a concentration of Culinary Arts, and needed an externship. I reached out to Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery, and worked there for the next year and a half learning how to make vast quantities of frosting and cupcakes in a certified gluten-free bakery. Soon after I moved to Florida where I got a job as a baker for a cupcake shop and slowly learned how to decorate as well as bake. Once I felt I learned everything I could there, I moved on to a country club in Bonita Springs working as a pastry assistant.
I took everything I had learned from the past four years and moved out west to Flagstaff, where I started working as a pastry chef for Sodexo at Northern Arizona University. Over the course of nearly five years, I learned how to manage a kitchen on my own, bake at a mass scale, and decorate better than I ever had previously. A lot of my decorating experience I have thanks to my years at Sodexo working alongside some very talented people.
In between all the baking jobs, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, working in the school restaurant and learning all about Italian culture and traditional cooking methods. A year later I was invited back to Florence to join a team of professionals working five events through the course of one week, TuttoToscana, where we would eventually prepare a specially curated menu exclusively for two nights in the James Beard Kitchen.
One thing I’ve learned that I always go back to is that you never stop learning. Any time I left a job, it was because I felt I could no longer gain anything from it. If you ever believe that you truly have learned it all, then you’re sorely wrong. There is always more to research, more recipe testing, or decorating techniques, and if you’re not learning it all, someone else is.
As for something that sets me apart, I am personally gluten-free and dairy-free and subsequently have a pretty good knack for baking gluten-free, dairy-free treats. That doesn’t mean I bake exclusively gluten and dairy free, but I definitely make a mean GF/VG brownie.
Honeycomb Pastries was originally created out of a need for change for myself in a rapidly changing world, but now I see that it was slowly growing all along. As I was growing my talents and my dreams, Honeycomb was also growing, starting as a little whisper in my mind and nudging me in the right direction. To take what was swirling in my mind and create it into something gorgeous for everyone to enjoy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Odd as it may seem to most of you locals, growing up I had never camped. We spent our vacations at the lake house, the beach or at a posh resort. So I had a bit of an aversion to camping when I first moved out, but I quickly grew to love it as my cousins taught me all their tips and tricks for a great camping trip. There are too many awesome spots to check out, so instead I’ll give you a quick day in Flag.
First, I’m going to shamelessly plug Mix Flagstaff, or as we like to call it, Re-Mix. Mix recently reopened at the end of June and I am so stoked to be a part of it alongside some other awesome creatives. I view Mix as a little farmer’s market- you’ve got your coffee, pastries, lunch, art, plants and all the little adorable knick knacks that you didn’t know you needed in your life until you saw it at Mix. Obviously I would want to start off by showing them the space that I have so much to be proud of. I would then want to take them on a little sunset paddleboard at Lake Mary, where they may or may not be put off by the murky water and the freakishly large fish. Enter at your own risk!
Drinks at the Annex are always a must (especially if you’re ordering the fried Brussels sprouts!), and then I would have to finish the night off with a plated dessert at Shift. I absolutely adore how creative Shift gets with all their plates- the menu changes regularly so if you see something that looks tempting, get it while you can! The best way to end a night in Flagstaff is by getting cozy in a blanket with loved ones telling stories by a fire and stargazing. Growing up near the city, I hardly saw stars, so it always astounds me to see the sky showing off.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First I have to thank my parents for raising me to be a strong, determined, and motivated woman. They always have my best interests and are always pushing me to pursue the things I am passionate about. I’ve always had a determined mindset, but they instilled the confidence that I can conquer anything I set my mind to. I wouldn’t be sane without the support of my boyfriend, he helps calm the storm and chaos that is always brewing, and continuously reminds me how special this all is and how much Honeycomb Pastries has grown in such a short time. To all of my friends who give me unconditional love and are always there to share a tequila shot after a long day. I’ve had too many mentors to thank individually, but I hope you all know who you are and how grateful I am to have worked and learned beside you all. Each one of you has helped shape me into who I am and what I can be capable of, and for that I am forever thankful.
Cody Half-Moon, Half-Moon Media LLC Hannah Rose Gray, Hannah Rose Gray Photography LLC