Born and raised in Minneapolis, Emilie’s pastry chef Willa Pelini has been watching protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, and trying to figure out how her skills could support the cause. Inspired by Paola Velez‘s pop-up doughnut shop Doña Dona benefiting Ayuda DC, Pelini cold-messaged the Kith and Kin pastry chef on Instagram to collaborate on something similar for the Black Lives Matter movement. The idea blossomed into Bakers Against Racism, a national bake sale on June 20 with proceeds from the virtual pop-ups going to organizations that support racial justice.
“If you have a special skill or special talent, that can also be used as a force of change,” says Pelini. “Everybody has a role to play, and you can use what you’re good at to push forward the cause.”
While Pelini originally imagined a singular bake sale, she says Velez transformed the pop-up into a national event encouraging professional pastry chefs and hobbyists alike to join and organize their own bake sales. Participating pâtissieres commit to making 150 pieces of dessert and donating the majority of profits to an organization of their choice that supports black lives. Velez is crafting tropical sweets like pina colada cake at Serenata in La Cosecha and giving all proceeds from the $8 desserts to Black Lives Matter DC’s legal support funds.
“I really wanted folks to not only participate in this, but to research the local organizations that are impacting change within their very own communities,” says Velez. “Every baker that participates has the power within their own hands to choose the organization that best represents them and what they believe is going to make lasting change to black lives.”
The team compiled resources for participants on how to host a pop-up, and Velez recruited Oyster Oyster and Scrappy’s Bagel Bar chef Rob Rubba to create trippy graphics that can be printed as labels or flyers. Since launching Thursday morning, the initiative has garnered commitments from more than 200 bakers in places as close as Silver Spring and as far as New Orleans and Chicago.
“I’m making doughnuts and I’m crying and I’m shaking. I couldn’t have imagined this response in my wildest dreams,” says Velez. “All I can say is black lives matter.”