One Smart Cookie: Why You Should Go To Gideon's Bakehouse
(Image courtesy of Gideon's Bakehouse. Image depicts the Key Lime Pie Chocolate Chip. For more information, you can go to https://gideonsbakehouse.com/product/key-lime-chocolate-chip/ )
Orlando, Florida, is home to a diverse food scene where one can grab world-class Italian, Mexican, Thai, and more. But, Orlando is known for having heavenly desserts. I first visited Gideon's Bakehouse at its original location in East End Market, Winter Park. The cozy atmosphere and sweet aromas transport the buyer from a modern food hall to an intimate bakery. Gideon's Bakehouse recently opened in Disney Springs. This second location allows locals and visitors to experience one of the best desserts I ever had. I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Lewis, owner of Gideon's Bakehouse, to discuss why you should try these iconic cookies.
(Image courtesy of Gideon's Bakehouse. Image depicts the Original Chocolate Chip Cookie. You can discover more about this cookie at https://gideonsbakehouse.com/bakery-menu/ )
1. What makes Gideon's Bakehouse different from other bakeries?
I can't speak with authority on what other bakeries are doing. I tend to live in my own little bubble in an attempt to be authentic to who I am. My focus is always to do the best work I can within my abilities, and I mean that with more than just desserts. I talk to my team about the three pillars that create the Gideon's experience. They all carry equal weight. First, of course, is the desserts. We sell cookies and cakes that took me up to 15 years to create. They are sentimental to me, not a manufactured product. Our offerings are 100% scratch-made by hand, taking over 24 hours to produce. There are no corners cut. Outside of a mixer, there are no machines involved. The way we make our desserts is identical to how I did it in my kitchen when dreaming about possibilities. I worked hard to create flavor profiles that are unique to us. Our Chocolate Chip Cookie, for example, isn't like any other I've tasted. To create memories, you have to go more than a few steps above and beyond.
The second pillar for Gideon's is the atmosphere. I don't ship or deliver my desserts. Coming into Gideon's Bakehouse is pure escapism, and it's an essential part of creating a complete experience. It's also just as personal as the desserts for me. I didn't hire a company to theme and design the unique look and feel of Gideon's. It's something I've done with my closest friends. I spent years collecting the books and antiques that line the crooked bookshelves at Gideon's. They are all authentic victorian era items. My spectacular friend Michael Reyes drew all the portraits on our walls. One of my oldest friends, Sandra Kammerer, sculpted the Cookies we display in domes like specimens. The interior of Gideon's feels like the inside of my brain coming to life, and I want people to experience that whimsical darkness. It is comforting.
The third pillar is our relationship with our community. I answer all incoming emails and run the social media. I have conversations with people, often at great length, not just about their visit to Gideon's but who they are as individuals. My crew knows they aren't salespeople. They are there to treat everyone like they are family and friends. Their job is to show gratitude since Gideon's Bakehouse exists purely out of the support from our community, and we celebrate them always.
(Image courtesy of Gideon's Bakehouse's instagram. Image depicts the Original Chocolate Chip Cookie, Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie, and True Chocolate Chip Cookie. You can discover more about this cookie at https://gideonsbakehouse.com/bakery-menu/ )
2. How does Gideon's Bakehouse incorporate its mission and vision into its product offerings?
Our mission is experience, so there is a desire to exceed mediocrity in all of our offerings. When I talk about experience, I don't just mean for our guests. I mean it for our crew. One of my favorite things to do is offer secret menu items. They are promoted on social media and only available for a single day, often never to return. Many of these items are creative ideas from the team. For example, I don't want my bakers to be bored making the same cakes day after day. I want them to explore and present their passions and test them out on our willing guests. My only ask is that what they offer is the best they know how to create. We don't have the ego to claim we are the best. There is no such thing. However, we must live up to the promise that we are always putting forth our very best. That is the mission and vision.
(Image courtesy of Gideon's Bakehouse. Image depicts Bites. You can learn more about this treat at https://gideonsbakehouse.com/local-preorders/ )
3. How did Gideon's Bakehouse evolve during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It was an interesting year for me. Right before the pandemic, I signed the lease for the location in Disney Springs. I spent much of that year planning and building and, essentially, digging myself deep into debt. But my goal was to make sure every member of my staff maintained their schedule. We added a Next Day Preorder page to our website that allowed people to order ahead and quick grab-and-go at the window in the OG Gideon's in the East End Market. I offered some cookies up for wholesale to other local businesses. Wholesale is not something we do, but it kept my production kitchen moving. It also helped support other companies in my community. We barely kept our heads above water, but we survived, and the Next Day Preorder page has become a regular part of our operations.
(Image courtesy of Gideon's Bakehouse. This Key Lime Pie Cake is described as, "Behold one of the best cakes we’ve ever produced! A 3 Layer Vanilla Key Lime Cake with tangy Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting and Graham Cracker Crust pieces throughout. Truly, a fantastic experience that we want everyone to try! You can learn more about this cake at https://gideonsbakehouse.com/product/key-lime-pie-cake/ )
4. What are some quintessential Gideon's Bakehouse drinks and foods?
I keep a small menu. Quality over quantity is the focus. I like to say that there is a Gideon's flavor for every emotion. With that said, the Chocolate Chip is the first child, if you will. That is where it all started, so it would be a shame to bypass it. We are known for being one of the few places left that make an authentic Southern Buttermilk Red Velvet Cake. Most people have never had genuine Red Velvet, just chocolate cake overloaded with coloring. For me, I have a hard time staying away from the Cold Brew offerings every time I enter the store. The balance is what I've been chasing for so many years. The Peanut Butter Crunch Cookie dipped into the Peanut Butter Buttercream ... oh my. This is a subject I can go on and on about.
(Image courtesy of Gideon's Bakehouse. image depicts the Gideon Cold Brew.)
5. What is the future of the company?
I'm a believer in listening to the business, not forcing it to do my bidding. I only have loose plans at the moment, but Gideon's at Disney Springs is a golden key that will let me grow in any way I can imagine. At this moment, we've only been open for a few months, so I think I'll focus on feeding that beast and see what the future holds.
(Image courtesy of Gideon's Bakehouse)