CHATTING FABULOUSLY WITH KAREEM QUEEMAN OF MR. BAKE
So, here is my best friend.
I met Kareem Queeman on our first day of high school in 2004. I wasn't a fan at first but after our 2nd or 3rd argument, we have been besties ever since. Fast forward 13 years later, and the love hasn't stopped, it just gets better. I have watched Kareem start with a simple boxed vanilla cake with chocolate canned frosting in his Harlem apartment to the owner and CEO of Mr. Bake, LLC.
From allowing me to eat the scraps from practice cakes in the very beginning to bakery internships in college to crafting and designing cakes and sweets for numerous clients from NYC to Washington, D.C I finally had a chance to chat fabulously with Mr. Bake himself. Interviewing your best friend is always fun, but as a business man its a totally new experience. Here we chat fabulously about his love for a simple slice of cake, how Mr. Bake started, and the 2 baking essentials you need in your home.
What is Your Current Position?
Kareem Queeman - I am the CEO of Mr. Bake, LLC
Where Did You Get Your Education?
KQ - I graduated from Monroe College. After I graduated from Monroe, I headed to the International Culinary Center in NYC.
What Inspired You To Start Mr. Bake?
KQ - I fell in love with all things nice and sweet at a young age, so much so I knew in middle school that I want to work for myself. The nickname Mr. Bake came on in my earlier college days and it just stuck with me. I got older and started to develop in my baking skills, Mr. Bake turned into the sweetest business.
What Are Some Baking Essentials That Every Person Needs to Have in Their Kitchen?
KQ - Some baking essentials that are a must would be a sturdy handheld or stand mixer and a good COMPLETE set of both measuring cups and spoons.
Baking is such a science compared to cooking, how do you come up with flavors and recipes?KQ - I normally do my research on the item I’m looking to create before I actually create it. I'm typically looking to discover 2 major things, A- has it been done before? B - if so, what did they use? I take that and use it as a blueprint to start creating the item I’m looking for. Then I test it out on my friends and feed them, which they never complain about.
How and Where Do You Draw Design Inspiration for A Customers Cake?
KQ - To be honest I draw inspiration from multiple places. If the client has given me free reign to design their cake, I like to take long walks in the city, may it be NYC or DC to allow my mind to be free and open to ideas. I take in ALL that I see, such as the architecture of a building. Maybe I spot a fashionista and in that same walk, the regular around the way fly guy and girl. All of this comes into play once I start to create.
What is Your Food Philosophy?
KQ - My food philosophy would be the old saying, "work smarter not harder"! I know your saying how does that work in the kitchen, but its perfect for the kitchen. Say your searching for the perfect recipe to bake for your child’s bake sale or developing a new recipe for your kitchen. Find/create recipes that are versatile and can serve multiple purposes.
What is Your Food Guilty Pleasure?
KQ - My food guilty pleasure would have to be a regular good ol' moist slice of cake. For me, as many cakes as I bake, nothing beats that simplicity for me.
Where do You Go for A No Fail Meal?
KQ - For food I would have to say the Famers Restaurant group out here in Washington DC. As for my favorite bakery I would have to say Empire Cakes in NYC.