Bakers Against Racism Raises Over $1.6 Million for Racial Justice—With More to Come

The virtual bake sale started by DC pastry chefs sparked a global movement.

One of pastry chef Paola Velez's creations. Photo courtesy of Paola Velez.

When Emilie’s pastry chef Willa Pelini, chef Rob Rubba (Scrappy’s Bagel Bar, Oyster Oyster), and furloughed Kith and Kin pastry chef Paola Velez started planning Bakers Against Racism in early June, their goal was to recruit 80 bakers to hold virtual bake sales on June 20 to support Black Lives Matter.

The power of the pastry prevailed—and rose beyond their wildest expectations. Around 2,000 professional pastry chefs and home bakers from Maryland to Malaysia, Australia, and Berlin raised over $1.6 million for  racial justice organizations. The total continues to climb as bakers input donations. The final tally will be revealed on Saturday, June 27.

“As bakers, as pastry chefs, we’re the first ones to get cut from a program or defunded basically because we’re a luxury—not a necessity—in the restaurant,” says Velez. “But look at what we were able to accomplish, all of us around the world.”

The DC founders are determined to make the bake sale an exemplary start to a ongoing conversation. The fundraiser meant record-breaking sales this year for many Black bakers, says Velez. To continue that momentum, Bakers Against Racism is pivoting to create a support system for BIPOC bakers while urging institutions to do the work in their own dining rooms.

“A lot of businesses need to rectify how they treated black indigenous people of color, how they treated their staff, and their guests as well,” says Velez. “So the bake sale was step one. I hope that they continue to put in the effort to really make change within their own companies and within themselves.”

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.