Photo Credit: @thesweeterymiami
“I don’t try to outdo other bakers, I try to out-do myself.” – Melissa Neyor
Seems as soon as she was old enough to reach the countertop, Melissa Neyor has been in the kitchen whipping up something to make mouths water. Savory or sweet, she was on it but as she got older, her creative ways led her towards the sweet side and later to opening The Sweetery Miami in her hometown. We talked about her staying close to home and a beloved food scene, how baking has evolved with the rise of technology and how busy they’ll be until we ring in the new year.
Kendra: Today you can boast about having over 25 years of baking under your belt but where did you start? Where did the fascination and drive to create delicious and beautiful deserts come from?
Melissa Neyor: My passion for baking came at an early age. I started with both of my grandmothers, probably around the age of 10. In my teens, I started experimenting with family recipes and adding my own twist to them. Seeing the joy in my parents’ faces when they took the first delicious bite was so gratifying! I had always loved to cook and bake, but I knew I had found my calling when I took cake design classes that my husband purchased for me as a birthday gift almost 12 years ago. Using my God-given creativity and my love of baking all rolled up into one – it was almost like a light bulb turned on and everything became clear.
Kendra: Being that you’ve been baking for some time, you came up in a time before we could Google recipes or YouTube how to ice a cake. How do you feel technology has sort of helped evolve baking?
Melissa Neyor: I grew up in a time where recipe books and cards were the norm. I used to love watching cooking shows on TV like the Frugal Gourmet, Julia Childs, and my idol, Martha Stewart. I would take notes on the ingredients they used and the process they would take to make these amazing desserts.
Since the internet became so paramount with apps like Pinterest and YouTube, I use them for inspiration and to continue to hone in on my skills and to find more diverse recipes to work into my own. It has helped me to evolve into a baker that still appreciates the old way of doing things, but with modern methods and ingredients that create an amazing end result.
Kendra: Another aspect of tech in consideration to baking is how we share just about everything. If it can’t go on Instagram, what’s the point – is what most people think. Do you feel that’s added pressure to bakers to go all out with the design of their desserts? Especially wedding cakes?
Melissa Neyor: The honest truth is, that if you don’t have a social media presence or a website – you don’t exist! Before I began baking professionally, I worked in the advertising and marketing industry since I was 19. I use my knowledge of that business to my advantage when promoting myself and my cake artistry. For some bakers, I can see where that would be added pressure. To put your designs out there for people to see, and be followed by other bakers that may critique your work or try to copy it, I’m sure can get frustrating. Personally, I love putting my stuff out there. I get a lot of great critiques on my work, as well as some awesome suggestions from my followers. It helps me to continue to up-the-ante.
Kendra: Did you always know you wanted to start a business in Miami? Because you’re a native there, right?
Melissa Neyor: Being a native-born Miamian is definitely the reason I began a business here. I’ve lived here all my life! The best thing about it is being part of such an amazing and cutting edge social food scene. Everyone here expects to be wowed by the food. Not just the flavor though. It has to have allure and sexiness! It has to be big and bold and yell out, “Hey! Come eat me…I’m amazing!” That allows me to experiment with flavors, textures, and designs that are not your typical cakes. I love the fact that I can be extra creative and flashy and my clients love it too!
Kendra: Miami is known as one of the best places for parties, and that’s something The Sweetery Miami also does; party and event planning. How has it been to fuse baking and event planning?
Melissa Neyor: Part of being a creative soul, means that you can be creative in so many ways. Cakes and desserts are the centerpieces of most major events, but so is the ambiance! Taking my creativity past the cake design, I began offering decorated dessert tables all matching the theme of the event. My clients were so pleased with the overall look and feel, that eventually it grew to a more complete solution.
Now I offer party planning and day of event coordination. I’ve had several weddings and corporate events that I have planned throughout the years and they have been awesome. Having been in the private catering business, I’ve met other caterers, lighting techs, Bands, DJ’s, photographers, and florists. They all make up the amazing team of people that come together to help me pull off some grand events with amazing results.
Kendra: What do you and The Sweetery Miami have going on as we head deeper into 2019?
Melissa Neyor: Coming into the end of 2019, we are almost completely booked with weddings, and huge events every week! We have also been invited back to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival event and have some other exciting partnerships through YouTube coming up! It’s so exciting to be able to say that.