WILMINGTON — Wilmington is home to one of the Greatest Bakers of 2020. Kristen Leonard, founder and owner of Bliss Confection Co., is among the year’s greatest bakers in the country.
Her website, blissconfectionco.com, outlines how each confection she makes is designed from scratch, with Leonard collaborating with each client to craft beautiful and delicious pastries that would become a memorable part of the events they were catered for, such as weddings or birthdays.
In a quote from Leonard’s website:
“Most events or celebrations involve dessert… or at least they should! More often than not, the dessert becomes the backdrop for our photos. The shots from our childhood posed in front of our birthday cake, the family seated around the Thanksgiving table, and of course the newlyweds in front of their wedding cake. Because these photos mark a memory of an event, one should hope the food being pictured is in fact picture-worthy!”
Her aunt, Kathleen Doherty, shares Leonard’s story and how she became one of the Greatest Bakers of 2020.
According to Doherty, “Kristen grew up in Lunenburg, went to New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, and graduated in 2010. Since then, she has worked at Sweet Cupcakes and then as pastry chef in these Boston restaurants: Legal Harborside, Sorellina, Moo and Ostra.
“Growing up, Kristen was (and still is) a fun-loving, great storyteller, always had us laughing, and never wanted her picture taken. She was a competitive figure skater and homecoming queen in high school.”
Leonard found inspiration and passion in baking when she was little, as she “always baked with her mom and both grandmothers and loved rainy days and snow days when the family baked. And (this) continued when she began taking baking class at Michael’s in high school.”
Leonard said, "I knew I wanted to do something hands on for college... creativity runs in the family. Heather was in art school, dad with his woodworking, mom with her crafting, nan with watercolors, and grandma and all the knitting and sewing. Mom and dad had me get a job at Gibbet Hill in Groton to see if I’d like the food industry before starting culinary school."
Bliss Confection Co. was founded when Leonard “started part-time baking for friends and family,” her aunt shared. “She created her own business to customize her baked goods, and worked out of the Orange Door Kitchen. The COVID-19 pandemic found her furloughed in March, so her business needed to grow.”
Leonard added, "I had extra time to devote to my own business and no clue when I’d return to the restaurant. My life had only gotten busier and busier through the pandemic."
For customers with allergies, Bliss Confection Co has gluten free and dairy free products. And also can make vegan treats.
Leonard’s goal for Bliss, according to her aunt, is to “continue her custom desserterie in a brick and mortar establishment. She gets enjoyment from being able to bring each customer's vision to life in a work of art that also tastes delicious. She loves that her creations are the picture worthy centerpiece in a special family celebration. She has great stories to tell about her creations and the occasions they are for.”
One example Doherty provides is when Leonard made a “car wash birthday cake for a four-year old that loves going to the car wash.”
In a post from Leonard announcing her entry into the contest, it is shown her motivations for entering the Greatest Baker of 2020 contest.
“So I did a thing. I don’t usually like contests, but I decided I’ve got nothing to lose and it’s 2020. Who knows what could happen.”
In terms of Leonard’s progress into the contest, Doherty said, “she made it to be one of the last 32 semifinalists, although she did not make finals. I figure there were more than 3,000 original contestants worldwide”
When asked about what she was most excited about in terms of the contest, Doherty explained, “I loved the excitement of each round. Family from all over the US rallied. We spread the word on our What’s-App family group chat first. Then, as she went to the second round, we spread the news further. Extended family and friends did an incredible job sharing. Her sister in Albania spread it to coworkers from previous assignments in Israel and Hong Kong. It truly was something fun and cheerful to be excited about in these crazy times.”
The Town Crier congratulate Leonard on her placement and hard work, and look forward to all the things she will accomplish. The year 2020 has been a difficult year for many, but it is stories like Leonard’s that show that with passion and dedication one can succeed and find the light in even the darkest of times.