By Alex Gonzalez
A New Orleans icon paid a visit to Dallas last month. Joy Wilson, better known as Joy the Baker, hosted a special holiday cooking demo at Williams Sonoma, where she has a line of cake mixes and breakfast mixes. Joy refers to her products as “baking lite,” due to the fact that most of the ingredients are contained within the mix packages, however, the work is still required to bring these recipes to life.
Last year, Joy launched Joy the Baker magazine after garnering a large following on her namesake blog over the previous 12 years.
We catch up with Joy days after her demo—and visits to Uchi and Emporium Pies—to discuss her time in Dallas, her love of baking and what she has in store for next year.
Hi Joy! How’s your week going?
It’s an absolutely insane time of year, but it’s all great.
What are you loving about Dallas?
What I really like about being in Dallas is the diversity in the food. I live in New Orleans. And I think we have some of the best food in the country but it’s very specific. When I get to leave New Orleans and go to a city like Dallas, specifically, I really love the diversity of the food.
Where did your love of baking begin?
My parents were big health food people in the early ‘80s. When I was growing up, we had a loophole in our family; if you could make it from scratch, whatever it was, you could have it. And so I was like, ‘Excellent. I am going to be a baker immediately,’ because I had such a sweet tooth but we didn’t have any store-bought delicious things. So I just learned how to bake really early because I wanted brownies.
What are some of your favorite things to cook during the holidays?
During the holidays, I really love to make cookies and cakes. I’m like a cookie factory at my studio right now. I’m making just hundreds of sugar cookies because I’m teaching a lot of sugar cookie decorating classes. But for my personal gifting, I’m making a lot of Italian Christmas cookies this year. And that’s really fun.
How would you describe the New Orleans dining scene?
What I love about the New Orleans dining scene is that it can be both classic Creole and Cajun food. But also lately, it’s growing with a lot of new young chefs, taking the classics and freshening them up. The food culture is so strong in New Orleans that it can be hard to see that kind of growth. But there’s been a fresh attitude in this city the last few years. And that feels really exciting.
You started the Joy the Baker blog in 2008. A lot has changed in the online world since then. How have you adapted to the changing landscape?
I was working in a bakery [when I launched the blog]. I had no real idea what the blogging world would end up being. But it was a place for me to share and store the recipes that I was working through in a bakery. I’ve just relentlessly done it for the last about 14 years. It evolved into a thing that people like and I love that.
You launched a magazine last year. What inspired you to bring your recipes to physical form?
It’s an opportunity for me to share new recipes in a tangible thing that comes out faster and feels fresher than a cookbook. Cookbooks take two years to get published, but the magazine can come together at a breakneck pace. It comes together in a couple of months and the content still feels fresh and exciting to me by the time it’s published.
What are you looking forward to in 2022
I have a spring and summer magazine coming out at the end of May. I’m looking forward to creating more recipes. I have another couple more products with William Sonoma coming out in the spring as well. I am currently working on summer recipes, even though it’s Christmas time right now. It definitely makes me look forward to warm weather next summer. I’m already in the vibe.