Entrepreneur: Amanda Schonberg
Photography by Don Kadair
POSITION Owner, operator and instructor
COMPANY Chef Schonberg’s Sweets
NEXT GOALS Expand product presence locally and grow Sugar Coin Academy
Amanda Schonberg dreams in buttercream. An experienced dessert chef working out of her home kitchen in Baton Rouge, Schonberg is on a mission to glorify traditional Louisiana desserts by adding her own unique twists. With a degree in culinary arts and occupations, Schonberg began her career in food service management with Fortune 500 companies like Great American Cookie Company, Sam’s Wholesale and Chartwell’s Dining. Her career path took an unexpected turn while working as a baker at Costco Wholesale when a customer requested a cake Costco didn’t make. After jokingly offering to make it herself, the patron took her up on the idea. Schonberg continued baking for family and friends, and was getting so many calls that she was inspired to start her home-based bakery. It 2015, she launched Chef Schonberg’s Sweets, a dessert catering company specializing in custom cakes, cupcakes, sweets and dessert tables made with high-quality, local ingredients.
From colorful cupcake towers and fluffy, booze-infused pound cakes to chocolate covered strawberries and intricately designed floral confections, Schonberg fills her Facebook and Instagram pages with photos of her creations daily. And while social media is considered the lifeblood of most culinary entrepreneurs, Schonberg knows a baking business has to be more than just pretty pictures. “I think it is not so much what you see but how you make people feel with what you do.” The product is only half of it, she explains. “Great customer service goes with it, everything from being on time when I deliver to how I look when I show up at someone’s desk in my chef jacket.” Her focus on customer service combined with branding and social media expertise has landed Schonberg celebrity clients like rapper Juvenile, R&B singer-songwriter Brian McKnight and New York Times best-selling author Ashley Antoinette. She has also built a reputation as a notable speaker at national sweets business conferences.
Schonberg strives to make her hand-crafted desserts the perfect fit for whatever occasion a client is celebrating, whether it’s a baby shower, birthday party, wedding or office event. She’s also passionate about teaching the tricks of her trade to others. “As my business grew, people starting coming to me with questions about things I thought were common sense, because of my business and culinary management background, but I realized it was not common sense for everybody.” Schoenberg began hosting classes on Periscope about aspects of her business, at times garnering anywhere between 700 to 17,000 viewers. Soon she started offering paid webinars on the business of baking, covering topics like marketing, pricing, baking with spirits, packaging and shipping, and more. In
May, Schoenberg joined forces with financial analyst and business coach Cydni Mitchell to launch Sugar Coin Academy—an extensive online academy offering training on how to run a profitable sweets business.
Most mornings, Schonberg has the ovens fired up by 4 a.m. “It’s just me, 100 percent.” For really big orders or events, her husband and student workers lend a hand. “The cool thing about being a cake baker and decorator is that you can put your personality behind whatever it is you make.” Still, it’s a constant challenge to stand out while also keeping up with industry trends and staying true to your brand. “You have to find a way to keep up with change and not lose who you are.” As for competition in Baton Rouge, Schonberg acknowledges there’s a lot out there, but believes there’s also enough business to go around. “One day, you might crave Chef Schonberg’s Sweets and then the next day, you might want Cupcake Allie, and that’s cool!” In July, Schonberg will launch a new line of spirit-infused cocktail cake jars and hopes to add her products to shelves at local grocers.