For any pastry chef, opening your first bakery-café would be a dream come true, but for Kaitlin Guerin, the opening of her Lagniappe Bakehouse this spring carries a little something extra. The classically trained pastry chef and co-owner is preparing to open the doors of her Central City business after a journey filled with serendipity and symbolism.
The Crescent City native had moved out to San Francisco to pursue a career in professional modern dance and ballet. But at some point, baking became more of an expression for her than dance. She started working under a Bay Area pastry chef and eventually went to culinary school in Napa Valley. After gaining experience in San Francisco and Copenhagen, she decided to come home to work in fine dining in January 2020, just a few months before the pandemic shut everything down.
“I realized at the time that I wasn’t going to be working in a restaurant anytime soon,” she recently told What Now New Orleans. “So I started thinking about what I wanted to do in a restaurant, but in a more grounded place.”
She decided to start her Lagniappe company as a cottage bakery and pop-up, slowly growing the business over the past three years, making connections, gaining experience and marketing her brand. The upcoming Lagniappe Bakehouse location at 1825 Euterpe St. will feature many sweet and savory recipes that Guerin has been woodshedding as both a fine-dining pastry chef and cottage industry baker. She said her goal is to make classic pastries more accessible to the everyday customer with a range of pastries, breakfast toasts and more. There will also be a full coffee bar, tea, and juice options.
“Had the pandemic not happened, I think I would be on a different track in my career,” she noted.
But Lagniappe is about more than bringing fresh-baked goodness to Central City. For Guerin, a culinary traveler with world-class kitchen experience, opening up near Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard carries special meaning. “After I told my parents that I’d be in Central City, my mom said her father worked on Oretha Castle Haley back in the ‘40s and ‘50s,” she mused. “That was really powerful to hear, and I started learning a lot more about the history of Central City and Oretha Castle Haley, the activist. That closed a lot of circles for me and brought things back home.”