PARKERSBURG Why would a pastry chef who had worked at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, Charlotte, Orlando and Naples return to Parkersburg?
For Bobby Pierce, it was an opportunity to share what he has learned in the big-city world of cake baking and designing and to open his own business.
Pierce, 31, a 1999 graduate of Parkersburg High School, has opened Hometown Cake as chef/designer in his Parkersburg home.
Bobby Pierce and Molly D’Avria stand in front of a life-size gingerbread house the staff of The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte builds every year.
Pierce specializes in custom-made cakes for any occasion. He also will bake cookies, pies and other desserts that are specially ordered.
His Jack Daniels Caramel Bread Pudding, a "New Orleans classic," is one of Pierce's specialties.
Pierce promises his cakes, which look as good as they taste, are made from scratch, with the freshest eggs, heavy cream, butter and flour, and no cake mixes.
After posting his business intentions on Facebook, Pierce received several orders for cakes a week before he was moving back to Parkersburg in April.
Pierce said the response to a damask wedding cake he prepared for friends in the Parkersburg area was a catalyst for his decision to return to Parkersburg.
He has created a caramel cake with fresh strawberries and Italian buttercream, a hydrangea wedding cake with vanilla chiffon and Italian buttercream, a pancake cake with cinnamon and maple syrup buttercream, a German chocolate cake with the presidential seal on top, and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and gumpaste flowers.
Pierce will be baking a three- or four-tiered gold and blue cake with the West Virginia University logo for Thursday's Mountaineer Athletic Club's Coaches Caravan at J.P. Henry's. He has orders for Kentucky Derby cakes and cakes to celebrate baby showers and birthdays.
Jane Engelke of Vienna was pleased with the cake Pierce baked for her son Harrison Schenerlein's fifth birthday. It was a Power Ranger cake with fondant.
"Bobby's skills are outstanding," Engelke said. "The fondant work he did was amazing; he is very talented, an artist. We are blessed to have him come back home to our small town and share such a delicious gift."
Pierce worked as a pastry chef for The Ritz-Carlton in four cities for six years. He studied at the Le Cordon Bleu in the Orlando Culinary Academy, graduating summa cum laude in 2005 with an associate degree in baking and pastry.
He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in studio art. His website is www.facebook.com/HometownCake.
Back to why Pierce decided to open a cake-baking business in Parkersburg instead of in a larger city.
"It is hard to get a niche in New Orleans and Charlotte because of the competition there," Pierce said. "I need to be here for what I do."