If you’re a Boston local, you’ve certainly heard of Heather Schmidt. Either from her company Homemade Modern Co. (previously City Chicks) or the immediate success of Union Square Donuts which she co-owns with business partner Josh Danoff. The latter is currently closed as they move their donut operation into a bigger and brighter space. Keep your eyes peeled on their facebook page for the announcement of an opening day celebration. And keep reading for a Q&A with the brilliant Heather!
Q. How and when did you start your path to becoming a chef/baker?
A. Growing up, my mom and dad both worked late and I would be in charge of dinner. When I’d get home from school, I would find a recipe my mom had left for me. I loved cooking. I thought I was so fancy when I made lunch for myself one day by adding parsley and oregano to Spaghetti-o’s. One time, I misread a manicotti recipe and added a Tablespoon of pepper instead of a teaspoon. That was bad. My dad ate the whole thing. Amazingly enough.
Cooking was the gateway into baking for me. My first solo experience was over one Christmas, and I made Croissants and a Danish Braid just because I was curious about how it all worked. They turned out awful. But my family, bless them, choked them down. That’s love!
Q. What were some of your most challenging culinary lessons in the beginning?
A. Cooking and baking are two different animals. Baking requires patience. This was a learned skill for me! Baking is a complete science. One of it’s limits. And it’s only after you fully understand those limits that you can break them. If you don’t break the rules, then it’s boring.
I love baking because it’s the only way I know how to take care of people, how to make them happy. Food is nurturing and I’m a nurturer by nature. I’m happiest in the kitchen!
Q. What inspired you to start Homemade Modern Co.?
A. I learned cooking on my own, and my mom taught me how to knit and sew. It wasn’t until I began talking with my peers that I realized these skills were lost. We don’t have to use our hands anymore, so oftentimes, people don’t. Homemade Modern was my way of encouraging us to preserve the skills my mother taught me, and her mother before her. Homemade Modern is about reconnecting with our food, it’s about using our hands again, it’s about understanding every step of the process. Not just as a consumer, but as a maker and creator. All within the context of a modern life. It’s very empowering.
Q. You recently started a new venture, Union Square Donuts with business partner Josh Danoff of Ocean Ave Popsicles. How did you decide on donuts?
A. I developed the flavors for Ocean Ave. Pops with the Danoffs. That was the beginning of our working relationship and friendship.
One day, Noah, Josh’s brother, called him and said, “We need donuts.”
Josh said, “I know who to call”.
Later that day he sent me an email:
“I have one word for you. Donuts.”
I wrote him back, “I’m in”.
The next week I started recipe development.
Q. How is being a part of the community of Somerville, specifically Union Square, been beneficial to your businesses? And vice versa.
A. I love being a part of Union Sq. because it is such a close-knit community. With so many small businesses here, we’ve become our own support system. We have a deep sense of pride and camaraderie about where we are and what we do – it’s electric. There is this exciting energy within the budding food scene here and I’m so happy to be a part of that.
Q. You’re non-stop these days, what’s next on the agenda?
A. Taking over the world. With donuts. And maybe ice cream? …