Randi Brecher, Creative Cakes
Since 2008, 59-year-old Gaithersburg resident Randi Brecher has been the baker-owner of Creative Cakes, which has been operating in Silver Spring since 1981. The master cake-maker has appeared several times on NBC4 and Fox 5 news segments featuring her specialty, gingerbread and gingerbread houses. In 2018, she appeared on the Cooking Channel’s Cake Hunters, a competition in which an engaged couple chooses one of three baker contestants to make their wedding cake. “We all drew up designs and made a miniversion. When I saw the bride’s reaction [to mine], I knew she was going to pick us,” Brecher says. The top tier of the ornate cake, which took 100 hours to decorate, revolved and featured a replica of the bride and groom on horseback.
In 2021, the Food Network emailed Brecher and asked if she liked gingerbread. “Are you kidding?” she responded. “I’m obsessed!” She auditioned virtually for the network’s Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown with her pal of 25 years, fellow baker Leslie Poyourow, who owned Fancy Cakes by Leslie in Bethesda and is now retired. The two were flown to Knoxville, Tennessee, in May 2021 to film the show, which aired in November.
The theme was “lights,” and they had to use cream puff dough in their design. She and Poyourow made an elaborate multiroom gingerbread house with gingerbread Christmas trees and cream puff light bulbs. “We didn’t win, but I made the biggest mess,” Brecher says.
Creative Cakes, 8814 Brookville Road, Silver Spring, 301-587-1599, creativecakes.com
Beth Yohannes, Lemon Slice Cafe
In any of the 11 episodes (as of late March) of Chef Beth Makes, the YouTube cooking series that Beth Yohannes, the chef and owner of Silver Spring’s Lemon Slice Cafe, launched in November, her charisma and passion are apparent.
In one episode, she is showing a young person how to make a sunburst-shaped tart. “I say, ‘Follow your instinct,’ ” she says brightly as her student tentatively tops a puff pastry circle with berbere (an Ethiopian spice mix), brown sugar and melted butter.
“Don’t worry about it! Come on, loosen up!” With that, her guest applies berbere and butter with abandon.
Episodes, most with Yohannes appearing solo, range between nine and 27 minutes. Some feature baked items, such as a phyllo dough dessert called lemon crinkle and a yeast bread, one version with pesto, another with Ethiopian awaze spice. Others highlight savory dishes from her native Ethiopia.
Yohannes, 55, attended cooking school in London and opened an Ethiopian restaurant there. In 1999, she and her husband immigrated to the U.S., first to Houston and then to Beltsville, Maryland, in 2013. After a 2014 to 2019 stint as the lunch chef at her daughter’s school, St. John’s Episcopal in Olney, Yohannes opened breakfast-and-lunch-only Lemon Slice Cafe in September 2019 in downtown Silver Spring.
Yohannes sees the YouTube series as a way to drum up business and pass her knowledge to her children, now 20 and 24. Two videographers film, edit and post the episodes, taping four at a time one day a month at Yohannes’ cafe. “Everything is done in one take with no script and no corrections,” she says. “I tell my husband I stutter a lot, but I’ll get better with time.” We haven’t noticed any stuttering. Just a star in the making.
Lemon Slice Cafe, 8737 Colesville Road, LL103, Silver Spring, 240-756-1700, lemonslicecafe.com