Taste of the South

A Taste of the South:  Southern Pies

About Our Participants 

27th Street bakery

Jeanette Bolden, Co-Owner
For more than 80 years, the 27th Street Bakery has been baking specialty Southern desserts including local favorites Sweet Potato Pecan Sweet Potato Pie, Apple Crumb Pie, Peach Cobbler, Red Velvet Cake, Pineapple Coconut Cake and German Chocolate Cake. Originally a restaurant, the business was founded in the 1930's to cater to the tastes of the wave of African American immigrants from the South who lived along Central Avenue. It was subsequently converted into a bakery in 1956 that now sells cakes, fruit and sweet potato pies, and today has now become the largest manufacturer of sweet potato pies on the West Coast with corporate clients such as Ralphs, Albertsons, Smart & Final and Superior Grocers. "Sweet potatoes were slave food, poor man's food, and African Americans turned it into a fine dessert," said one of the grandchildren, Gregory Spann, the bakery's manager. To make the pies, the bakery uses traditional ingredients of yams, sugar, eggs, milk and vegetable shortening. The rest is a secret, said Jeanette Bolden, Spann's sister, who also is active in the family business and who refuses to explain how the pies get their sweet creamy texture. Also on the menu were sock-it-to-me cake, pineapple upside-down cake, lemon glaze cake and a variety of other pastries. 

Southern Girl Desserts 

In 2007 when the company was founded, there were no dessert companies dedicated to desserts made popular in the south and as a new comer to Los Angeles. Co-owner Catarah Hampshire noticed the people she encountered didn’t have the traditional southern mannerisms she was used to. Those two things prompted her motivation to create a dessert company that reflected the hospitality she grew to know and love and desserts that could only be made by the hands of true southern girls. In early 2008, just six months after Southern Girl was founded, co-owner Shoneji Robison joined the team instantly creating the duo, now known as the “Dessert Divas.” Shoneji’s decorating and baking knowledge and celebrity connections added the push the company needed to expand to a broader audience. Together the two combined their family and personal recipes and haven’t looked back since.
Today Southern Girl Desserts remains the only southern inspired dessert company in Los Angeles where every dessert on the menu has roots from the south. Southern Girl Desserts only creates desserts that have strong southern ties and do their best to introduce and many times remind their customers of the unique and sweet flavors found only in the south. It has never been their mission to compete with the everyday cupcake and dessert shops; yet they strive to make their desserts better than the MaDears, grandma’s, aunt’s and mama’s of their customers.
At their Baldwin Hills Crenshaw store, Southern Girl Desserts offers cupcakes, cakes, pies, sweet tea and more. Whether you just have a sweet tooth or are in need of a bridal cake, let Southern Girl Desserts give you a taste of the south.



Shae Seward, Owner

Shae Seward is the owner and founder of Cobblermania, an all-vegan cobbler business with over 44 cobbler flavors.  Seward learned how to bake the fruit-based desserts from her Auntie Roi, who brought homemade peach cobblers to family gatherings. When Seward’s Auntie Roi stopped making cobblers because of her age - she was then in her 90s - Seward asked her aunt to teach her the recipe. Today the business has a devoted following Seward calls "Cobblermaniacs.” Seward is best known for selling her old-fashioned fruit cobblers at farmers markets and special events. The look is pure county fair: rustic, golden-brown crusts with glossy bubbled-through bits of fruit showing. And the taste is pure farm kitchen, especially in the two-fruit combos, with, for example, the bright tang of slightly sweetened strawberries playing off the mellow softness of apple. Seward doesn't advertise this, but the cobblers are sweetened with agave and the crusts are vegan.

Marie Callender’s Restaurant and Bakery 

In the 1930's, Marie Callender, her husband Cal Warren Callender, and their son Don lived in a trailer park off Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach. Marie baked and sold pies to augment the family's income, with Don delivering pies to customers on his bicycle. In 1948 Don founded the business as a wholesale outlet for selling pies to restaurants in Orange County, California. Eventually, Don opened a retail outlet in Orange, California, naming it after his mother, and gradually adding other food items. A local favorite restaurant for getting a bite to eat in a relaxed atmosphere, the bakery is known for over 30 pie varieties where pies can be purchased whole or by-the-slice.


Gwen’s Specialty Cakes 

Gwen Vance has been owner of Gwen's Specialty Cakes and Catering for over 30 years, specializing in cakes, pies and catering for all occasions. Born in Oakland, California, Gwen graduated with a B.A. Degree in Mass Communications from Haywood University. Much winning and dining in her fifteen-year span in advertising developed Gwen’s appreciation for gourmet foods and desserts.

Gwen’s eagerness to bake with her sister progressed from a hobby for family and friends to opening “Gwen’s Specialty Cakes and Catering” in Inglewood, California in 2001.  Gwen’s menu and client list has become extensive in the past 30 years and with superb customer service, Gwen believes that sharing her knowledge and expertise is the key.” Known all over Los Angeles for her made to order homemade pastries, cakes and desserts, Gwen uses only the finest and freshest ingredients in her product to insure their rich homemade taste.  Her tasty sweet potato, lemon and pecan mini-tarts are local  favorites!