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Art & Life with Callista Mei

Today we’d like to introduce you to Callista Mei.

Callista, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My love for the culinary world began when my father taught me how to flip the perfect pancake. When I would pick out the best bag of lychee with my mother in Chinatown. The first time I got to lick the leftover batter of a boxed cake mix. Food Network was my after school “cartoons” and cookbooks my bedtime stories. I didn’t attend culinary school; actually, I graduated with my BA in Media Analysis and Film, but cooking was always my go to in times of stress, happiness, sadness, and boredom. I pursued a career in media during and after college until I realized it wasn’t fulfilling me. I spontaneously auditioned for Season 8 of MasterChef and made it into the top 80 out of 35,000 applicants that year. While I didn’t make it further on the show, it solidified that I wanted to make a career change into the culinary world full time. I was lucky enough to land a pastry chef position alongside Nancy Silverton and Dahlia Navarez of Mozza Osteria straight out of the gate; I still don’t know how…beginner’s luck?

Working in one of the most renowned restaurants in the world and next to two James Beard Winning chef’s was an invaluable experience but I felt myself craving more, I wanted to share my passion on a higher level. Ironically, that’s where I turned back to all of my media and producing experience and combined my two skill sets into my dream passion project; SIX SWEET UNDER; DESSERTS TO DIE FOR. I began the journey of my own digital food series where I feature only unique desserts around the world and the passionate people behind them. This is my calling; I want to share with the world the stories and history behind a dish that is so much more than delicious. I conceptualize, produce, and host SIX SWEET UNDER with a humble crew of 2. Bartley Taylor, my right-hand man and dearest friend who helps me out of his genuine belief in me that I have something different than a network will notice.

The reason I have always loved food is its ability to bring anyone together, no matter the language, the ethnicity, the social class; it’s the non-verbal global communication of inclusivity. If you invite someone to take, seat, pour them a glass of wine and make sure they have a warm meal, you are showing you care on the most basic human level. Push aside all the fluffed up “Instagram worthy” bullshit and let’s get back to what food is about. Simply love.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Some people call me The Queen Of Cakes, other’s a Pastry Princess, but I just like to say “I’m a Pastry Chef.” I’ve been making custom cakes for special occasions for years and am constantly growing my craft and learning from classic French techniques to new age trends. Pastry and baking have always interested me due to its level of detail and specificity it calls for; I love the science behind it. I know many people find that aspect of baking frustrating, but to me, I see it as a challenge I want to conquer if something comes out how I didn’t expect it to. Whenever I need to escape from the daily hustle, the precision and focus I need to give to my craft is exactly what allows me to get a break from the stresses of life.

Over the last year, I wanted to take my love for baking to the next level; a way I could share my passion with as many people as I could. So I started my own digital food series titled SIX SWEET UNDER DESSERTS TO DIE FOR as a way to shine a light on the sweeter side of life. I’m honestly so sick of the “Instagram worthy” desserts that may look amazing but taste like garbage; that is not what food is about. With my show, I wanted to get back to what food is and should be about, the little gems and the artists behind it in every city, that you may look past because it’s not unicorn colors.

Another huge reasoning behind my show is to be a representation for women of color in a male-dominated industry. People always joke about how “women belong in the kitchen,” and you know what they’re right; right next to you as Chef De Cuisine and don’t get it twisted. People may think that Pastry is a girls job, and maybe they’re right, because there is a level of patience, nurturing delicateness, and lack of ego my art needs to come out perfectly.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
Success to me is happiness. When you are doing what you love simply because you love it. When you would do it for free for the rest of your life. If you put that energy into your craft the monetary success will come with it, your motivation cannot be the other way around, or you will never find success. When I see my creations contributing to somebody’s special day or I get a message about an episode we made and how they have to go try that dessert, or they love seeing someone like them on the screen is what makes me feel like I’ve succeeded. I don’t think there is ever a cap to one’s success; it is always what you personally set for yourself. If you reach your goal and then stop, you’re not learning anymore, and to me, that is a failure.

The characteristic I feel is the most essential to your success as an artist is humility. Sorry to break it to you, but being conceited is not a talent. Never let the praise get to your head, never forget how many times you have failed and still will, never stop learning from everyone you can and always be kind to every single person you encounter. Because at the end of the day, your art’s success is dependent on those who show interest and if you lose touch of humility and how to authentically connect to people, you and your art are disposable.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
To view my digital food series, SIX SWEET UNDER you can follow our Facebook Page under the same name.

For custom cake orders, you can send me a direct message through Instagram @sixsweet_under.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Callista Mei & Bartley Taylor

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition, please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Gallerani

    May 30, 2019 at 21:32

    Thank you for this profile! Wonderful interview! Delicious cakes! Want one NOW!

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