Secrets of Success: Bobbie Lloyd, Magnolia Bakery

Foodservice East: Where are you from and where were you raised?

Lloyd: I was born and raised in Chicago, IL.

FSE: What led you to enroll in a culinary class at the age of eight?

Lloyd: When my sister was starting kindergarten, my mother decided that she was going to go back to work full-time. As a result, my mom asked us each to help contribute to the household and I wanted to be able to start dinner. I liked being in the kitchen, but didn’t have a lot of experience cooking at that point, so decided to take a class to get some additional experience.

FSE: How did you decide to come to Boston and study with Madeleine Kamman at Modern Gourmet?

Lloyd: I was living in Grand Rapids Michigan and decided that I wanted to attend culinary school in the Fall. At the time, it was June so many of the schools were already full for the next semester. I contacted every school in the country that would make sense to me based where I ultimately wanted to end up, focusing on New England and New York. I contacted the CIA, The New England Culinary Institute in VT, Peter Kump’s and a few other local and/or community college type schools.  No one had space, but Modern Gourmet put me on a waiting list. In mid-September, I received a call that someone had to drop out and could I make it to the school by the end of the month. I packed my Volkswagon convertible and was on the road to Boston in no time. I’d never been to Boston or the school, but excited to start the program.

FSE: Were you baking, cooking, or both at American Accent in Brookline, MA after graduating from Modern Gourmet? 

00Lloyd: After graduation, I worked in a number of restaurants in and around Boston – the Back Bay Bistro on Boylston St. where I was a line cook, at Cornucopia, where I worked in several stations, and I worked for Debra’s Catering in Newton Center where I did a little of everything. At American Accent, I did a little of everything as well, from making pizza dough and pizzas and baking cheesecakes and muffins to writing checks and pouring wine.

FSE: How did you decide to go to NYC and then become a personal chef to Calvin Klein?

Lloyd: After closing American Accent, I was recruited by Calvin and offered a position as his personal chef for the summer season at his home in the Hamptons. It was a six-month gig that lasted from the end of April to the end of September.

FSE: You’ve held positions at many well-known and highly respected restaurants – Union Square Café, Prix Fixe, The Screening Room, Au Café and Tribeca Grill among them, and later worked as a controller at several more top establishments. How did you meet Steve Abrams and launch Soup To Nuts Catering and It’s A Wrap in New York?

Lloyd: Steve and I met through mutual friends. We all had great respect for each other. Steve had owned a very hip, cool restaurant called Flowers that was a street away from Prix Fixe.

FSE: What is the factor that brings you the greatest happiness in the kitchen?  

Lloyd: Both cooking and baking are my happy places, my Zen, my yoga. I get great pleasure from baking and gifting whatever I make.

FSE: What’s your favorite dessert and why?

 Lloyd: There is always room for ice cream. Never tire of it. I also love cookies. Cookies come in every shape, size and flavor. They can be eaten for breakfast, a snack or a fancy dessert after dinner.

FSE: What advice do you give to young people seeking careers in baking?

Lloyd: Know what you want to do and go for it. There are so many careers available in the baking world from baking, cake decorating and fancy French pastry. Play to your strengths, work hard and always continue to study. You learn new things from every person you work for and with.

FSE: When you are judging baking competitions, what do you look for that tells you someone should win?

Lloyd: I look for someone who is calm under pressure, the ability to not go too big to try to impress the judges, creating a product that you can finish in time and quality of technique that is consistent. I’d rather see someone do a beautiful simple design than try to impress me with six different techniques that fail.

FSE: Why Boston now for Magnolia Bakery?  Have you been wanting to open a Magnolia Bakery here for awhile? 

Lloyd: We have been wanting to open in Boston for awhile and were looking for just the right spot. We’re excited to now be open in Faneuil Hall Marketplace where we can cater to people visiting Boston, as well as people living and working in the area. Boston is such a vibrant city and we are so excited to finally be open and sharing our desserts with Bostonians near and far.

FSE: Are you doing any menu item/s for just Boston?  Sara, you can give the our special desserts. Boston cream pie BP and the Cannoli bar.

 LLOYD: Yes! We have a delicious Boston Cream Pie banana pudding which is available exclusively at our Boston location – it has layers of vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers, bananas and decadent chocolate fudge. We are also going to be launching a Cannoli Icebox Bar soon, which will be available exclusively at the Faneuil Hall location as well.

 FSE: Do you hope to open other locations here in Boston or the Greater Boston area? 

LLOYD: We’re certainly open to the idea!