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Simone Faure

Bakers for Black Lives Benefit at The Vino Gallery Sunday

Word spread across social media like hotcakes last Friday after a group of St. Louis-based bakers announced they were planning an old-fashioned bake sale to benefit ArchCity Defenders. Campaign Zero, and STL Mutual Aid.

The bakers, Tai Davis (Alchemy Bakery), Meaghan Coultrain (Formerly of Niche Food Group), Simone Faure (La Patisserie Chouquette, the link is to an entertaining Sauce Magazine interview), Sharon Harter (Bellwether and Polite Society), Hannah Kerne (formerly of Vicia), and Shimon Otsuka (Nathaniel Reid), named the fundraiser Bakers for Black Lives and enlisted Alex Head, proprietor of The Vino Gallery, to host the event on the patio at 4601 McPherson.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink  The Vino Gallery Tai Davis Simone Faure Shimon Otsuka Sharon Harter Meaghan Coultrain Hannah Kerne Bakers for Black Lives Alex Head

The event began at 10 a.m. By 10:20 a line stretched from The Vino Gallery to the former Llyweyln’s Pub.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink  The Vino Gallery Tai Davis Simone Faure Shimon Otsuka Sharon Harter Meaghan Coultrain Hannah Kerne Bakers for Black Lives Alex Head

Examining these photographs as I post them, I realize how quickly I’ve adjusted to the latest version of normal. People wearing face masks standing 6′ apart alongside boarded-up galleries and shops.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink  The Vino Gallery Tai Davis Simone Faure Shimon Otsuka Sharon Harter Meaghan Coultrain Hannah Kerne Bakers for Black Lives Alex Head

Cheers erupted from the crowd when a fire truck from the neighborhood’s Engine House 28 traveled east on McPherson.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink  The Vino Gallery Tai Davis Simone Faure Shimon Otsuka Sharon Harter Meaghan Coultrain Hannah Kerne Bakers for Black Lives Alex Head

This was the scene inside The Vino Gallery as organizers arranged baked goods to bring out to the patio for sale. The CWE’s The Cup donated cupcakes and Insomnia Cookies participated as well.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink  The Vino Gallery Tai Davis Simone Faure Shimon Otsuka Sharon Harter Meaghan Coultrain Hannah Kerne Bakers for Black Lives Alex Head

The event was scheduled to last until 2 p.m. but by noon all the pastries were gone, and because shoppers were invited to pay what they wished Bakers for Black Lives raised $12,000 in 2 hours!Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink  The Vino Gallery Tai Davis Simone Faure Shimon Otsuka Sharon Harter Meaghan Coultrain Hannah Kerne Bakers for Black Lives Alex Head

People continued donating long after the pastries were gone. I’ve copied part of organizer Hannah Kerne’s post on Facebook describing how the morning went. For more information, and how you can still donate, here is the link to Bakers for Black Lives Facebook page.

Within 2 hours, we raised more than $12,000 for ArchCity Defenders, Inc., STL Mutual Aid, among other racial justice organizations. I wish Facebook allowed us to bold that number. Before we opened at 10am, people had donated $1,000. By 10:30am, we were at $5,000 and had to cut off curbside pickup because our 1,500 inventory of baked goods was running out and the line was more than 2 blocks long. 1 hour into the event at 11am, we had raised $7,000. By 11:15am, we had to tell people they may not get baked goods but encouraged everyone to still donate. By 11:30am, we ran out of baked goods and were at $8,000, but people wanted to stay in line to donate for the cake raffle. By noon, people were still stopping by to donate and donating online. We soon realized that we had raised more than $12,000.

Reminder that this event was supposed to go until 2pm, and dozens of people continued to donate to get us to this number. Hundreds of people respectfully wore masks and socially distanced the entire time and joined in chants and applause as we ran down the sidewalk to announce the new donations numbers.

St. Louis showed the f*ck up today, and it’s clear there is a hunger to do more to ensure that tomorrow, and every day after that #BlackLivesMatter, and that the anti-racism work goes so far beyond a bake sale and its roots live far deeper than police brutality.

Also, we started this because food is our love language, and it turns out, it’s everyone’s love language.

We have already received messages from chefs and bakers around the country wanting to have similar events, and we plan to have future events, (hopefully around Juneteenth!), so please follow us on Bakers for Black Lives and on Instagram at @Bakers4BlackLives.

Photos from Friday’s “A Taste of Fiction” at Central Library

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

Friday night's A Taste of Fiction, A Must-Read, Must-Eat Event, to benefit culinary programming and the culinary collection of the St. Louis Public Library featured pastries from 16 local pastry chefs and their assistants, shown above. A Taste of Fiction took place at Central Library, downtown.

425 guests attended the second annual fundraiser featuring confections inspired by literary works chosen by A Taste of Fiction's committee. Following is a sampling of some of the show-stopping creations that were on display.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

Lia Weber and Martin Lopez of Made. by Lia, located in Florissant, created a spectacular interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Lia, who earned an associate's degree in baking and pastry arts from Forest Park Community College was the winner of TLC's Cake Boss "Next Great Baker," Season 4.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

Julie Weldele, Executive Pastry Chef of the CWE's Crepes, etc. and  Scape American Bistro was assigned Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Bite-size samples of the cake, labeled "Eat Me," were striped like the Cheshire Cat. Julie said  the cake would be on display at Crepes, etc. following the event, should you wish to see it up close – it's really special.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

As Executive Pastry Chef for both Lumiere Place Casino & Hotels and River City Casino, Stephen Schubert, above, oversees more than 30 bakers and pastry chefs. He took time out of his busy schedule to create an interpretation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, above.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

Simone Faure, right, Pastry Chef of the fabulous La Patisserie Chouquette, had just returned from a trip to France the day of the party. She said it took just four hours to create her interpretation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, shown above. Jet lagged? Mais oui.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

The Kakao Production Team, led by Kakao Chocolate founder Brian Pelletier, includes Jenny Bazzetta, Tracy Kodner, Emily Czarnecki, Sarah McConkey, Monica Tirre, and Natalie Zivnuska. They created an interpretation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, above.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

The fur on George (Skip) Gunthier's Winnie the Pooh had party goers asking if it was really icing, it was so "plush-like." Gunthier, a long-time pastry chef, is currently Baking and Pastry Instructor at L'Ecole Culinaire.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

Annie Gunn's Pastry Chef Danielle Luisi attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. She interpreted Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, another fantastic creation.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings Food and Drink  Tim Brennan Stephen Schubert Simone Faure Saul Juarez Sandia Hoorman Melissa Cusumano Martin Lopez Lia Weber Laura Barton Kakao Production Team Julie Wedele George Gunthier Darlene Fahrig-Markovich Danielle Luisi Central Library Casey Shiller Brielle Fratellone Anne Croy A Taste of Fiction

Laura Barton and Melissa Cusumano, pastry chefs at Jilly's Cupcake Bar and Cafe, were having as much fun at the party as they did creating an interpretation of Judi Barrett's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, above.

Other pastry chefs who participated in A Taste of Fiction were Tim Brennan of Cravings, Anne Croy of Pastaria, Darlene Fahrig-Markovich of Schnucks Des Peres, Brielle Fratellone of The Ritz Carlton, Sandia Hoormann of Piccione Pastry, Saul Juarez of The Four Seasons Hotel, Amanda Pinkstaff of Le Cordon Bleu, and Casey Shiller of St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. Chef Shiller has trained many of the pastry chefs in St. Louis and beyond. Current students were at A Taste of Fiction handing out their delicious chocolate chip cookies. 

A Taste of Fiction is an event everyone seems to love, so let's hope it continues for years to come.