Kareem “Mr. Bake” Queeman born and raised in Harlem, New York dived into his love of sweets at the young age of 10 years-old, baking his first yellow Duncan Hines cake with his mother. His passion and drive for the baking industry led him to Monroe Colleges of Culinary Arts. While learning the ins and outs of the culinary industry, Mr. Bake worked with New York City’s leading bakeries such as Carrot Top Pastries, Make My Cake, Sara Beth’s Bakery, and Billy’s Bakery. After gaining years of experience in New York, Mr. Bake made his way to the Nation’s Capital to expand his business. Mr. Bake is the first male to win the title of America’s Best Baker DC competition. Mr. Bake has created sweet treats for non-profit and government entities and entertainment corporations like BET, Disney 21, Century Fox Universal Pictures, and millennial music artists Vashawn Mitchell and Kehlani.
We had an amazing opportunity to attend his premiere party for Cake Boss and had a chance to chat with him.
MillBuzz: What Inspired you to be a pastry chef?
Mr. Bake: My love of sweets inspired me to be a pastry chef. As a child, my family had monthly meetings to talk about family trips, birthdays, and other social gatherings. During these moments, we would have all types of food. I fell in love with sweets at the age of ten when I asked my mother to bake my first cake.
MillBuzz: How would you describe how you’re feeling now that you were a contender and winner on the Bake It Like Buddy competition?
Mr. Bake: The competition was simply fun and life changing! Originally, I was overwhelmed by the process and wasn’t going to move forward, but I pushed myself. After standing up to bake for four hours, I was happy with the end result. I felt accomplished and it was great to realize my skills are on a level to compete with other notable pastry chefs.
MillBuzz: With the holiday season commencing, what are a few tips you would give millennials on baking for holiday festivities?
Mr. Bake: For the courageous millennials that want to go in the kitchen, find a dish that’s nostalgic or inspired by a family heirloom. Take your time and read the recipe thoroughly. For the pick up and go millennial, support the small home baker businesses for the convenience.
MillBuzz: With the pumpkin spice craze taking over the fall and winter season, what are your favorite pastries to make that compliment millennial’s current obsession?
To compliment this current pumpkin spice obsession, my pumpkin cranberry orange bliss cupcake is my favorite to make. It’s a pumpkin spice cake with fresh cranberries folded in the batter, and an orange cream cheese frosting on top. First, you experience the spice in the pumpkin, then you get the tart from the cranberry, and the orange smooths the pallet while the pumpkin and orange marry each other. I also enjoy baking my chocolate pumpkin swirl cake. Pumpkin cake with marbleized chocolate, cream cheese frosting with homemade caramel drizzle, and toasted pecans.
MillBuzz: What are some of the latest baking trends that are changing the baking industry?
A baking trend that’s taking over are donuts! Donuts are popular because people request donut bars and walls as an accent in décor for baby showers and weddings. This trend has challenged bakers to extend their product line to experiment with different flavors and even fry donuts. With the power of social media, bakers find their niche that’s out of the box and challenges them to get more creative.
MillBuzz: Who are a few celebrities you would like to bake a birthday cake?
I absolutely love and would be honored to bake for Mary J. Blige, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama, and pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel.
MillBuzz: What’s next for Mr. Bake?
With the passing of my mother in 2017, I recognized the importance of mental health. It was and still is hard for me to accept that my mother is gone. However, my experience with losing a loved one has motivated me to get involved with the community to advocate for mental health. In 2019, I will also debut Baking with Mr. Bake classes, with up to three to four guests. The class will be tailored for beginner, intermediate, and advanced bakers to have fun learning different baking techniques while sipping cocktails with friends.