Today we’d like to introduce you to Justine Hernandez.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always loved baking. I was taught by my Polish grandmother how to make cinnamon bread, biscottis, and coffee cake. We baked at least once a week, and I even remember the first time she taught me how to use a knife by cutting an apple for an apple pie. By my mid 20’s I had been in every restaurant position besides BOH, and I decided to take a short course at New School of Cooking in Culver City.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Immediately after completing the course I got a job at a very cool cafe on Pico. My second graveyard shift was a complete disaster. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and it ended with me crying to the dishwasher at 5 am with only two loaves baked for a busy Saturday morning service. It was the first time I had ever failed hard, like really just bombed something, but it was also the first time I challenged myself.
My next job was great, mainly baking large batches of buns and small batches of individual desserts. Right around this time, our current president was elected, and I remember the next morning everyone at work was sad. Growing up in Echo Park I had liberal parents and couldn’t imagine a world where this was our actual reality. I started to think about things, and I wanted to work toward something with a purpose. Since I loved baking and couldn’t imagine leaving the kitchen, I started to protest with my food choices.
I started baking vegan at home, testing recipes, changed my diet and lifestyle. I realized other people felt this way and wanted to explore choosing foods that didn’t involve animals. I started Just What I Kneaded as a reaction to our current political and environmental climate. Baking without animal products has given me a greater appreciation for nature, produce, animals. And compassion for humans.
Sort of an unexpected result spawned from the opposite climate we are experiencing in this country. I am now opening a brick-&-mortar cafe and bakery in Elysian Valley, also known to some as Frogtown. I’m excited to share a thoughtful & compassionate menu with the community and want nothing more than to bring people together with food.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Just What I Kneaded story. Tell us more about the business.
Just What I Kneaded is an all-vegan bakery, specializing in sweet and savory morning pastries. I am the head baker, well the only baker right now and I absolutely love making cinnamon rolls. Although cinnamon rolls are my favorite to make, I think I am most known for my savory puff items.
Spinach scrolls with almond ricotta sautéed spinach w/roasted garlic or my tomato, vegan cream cheese, and basil galettes are my best sellers. I am most proud of my connections with vendors, my love of baking and the fact that I use zero amounts of eggs, butter, and milk.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am very lucky. I have ambitious parents who worked hard in the middle class to provide stability. I was always allowed to grow at my own pace and explore all creative outlets.
My mother is a boss and always prides herself on having me born on a lucky day. I’m very mellow when things go wrong because I know eventually things will go right. I am lucky, very very lucky.
- Address: 2029 Blake Ave #104 Los Angeles, CA 90039
- Instagram: Justwhatikneadedla