Imagine being 18 years-old leaving home, headed to college knowing exactly what you were going to do. Pastry Chef wasn't even a thought.

That's exactly what Rachel Norton thought when she packed her belongings and left Lowell, a city just outside of Boston. Norton headed to Pittsburgh to attend college where she was seeking a degree in interior design. Classes on building and engineering codes cemented Norton's determination to change majors. 

Pamela Lynn

I just want to make people’s houses pretty," she said.

After changing schools and majors twice Norton, she completed her A.A. degree. Going back to school might be in her future but for now all she wants to do is bake. 

Norton's baking journey led her to St. Petersburg at the beginning of the pandemic in March. Her 2911 Bakery, which operates out of the shared kitchens of Florida Chefs Workshop now sells vegan baked goods at outdoor markets and other businesses.

Her Big Chance

Though Norton, now 23 years old, said she has baked most of her life at home, her professional opportunity began while she was working at a cafe' in Pittsburgh as a barista.  She offered to fill extra spots if needed, and that lead to her start as a professional baker. 

"The café manager let me experiment on some recipes I had, and I took some of their baked goods; cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls basically everything I had learned to bake 'regular' and made it vegan," she said.

Pamela Lynn

Her big break came when the café she was working at got a massive cookie order from the University of Pittsburgh. The pastry chef there at that time didn’t want to do it. So, she just quit. Norton spoke up and told the manager, “I’ll do it! I mean it is just me.” I figured I might as well, I was the only one they had. The cookie order was for 6,000 cookies. Yeah, 6,000.”

She has had the opportunity to work as a pastry chef at some larger volume business. All the while taking the standard pastry product and re-creating it into a vegan delight.

Norton bakes strictly vegan. She explains that to her it is a lifestyle, and she is firmly committed to researching all the products she bakes with. 

"Some sugars are made with bone char; heating of animal bones to create a carbon which in turn allows sugar to receive its white color, " she said. "I don’t believe we should be eating that.”

A Florida Journey

When she first arrived in St. Petersburg in March, she worked as an Instacart shopper while she launched her business, 2911 Bakery. 

Pamela Lynn

She stays busy baking her tasty treats for 3 Dot Dash Vegan Kitchen in Tampa, Driftwood Café on the Pier, and sets up her tent at the Corey Avenue Sunday Morning Market, on Saturdays at Dunedin Downtown Market. She hopes to be at the Gulfport Tuesday Market soon. She is also doing custom orders.

“I am making a living. It may be simple, but I love it," she said.

If you are interested in checking out 2911 Bakery, check out her contact information on Facebook or Instagram

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