“I always say quality over quantity. It’s important when it comes to good food.” – Katie Hymel
Amid the sweet, tantalizing aromas of handmade almond cupcakes, croissants and even croutons, pastry chef Katie Hymel’s delicacies are in good hands.
There’s no mass production here.
“I always say quality over quantity,” she said. “It’s important when it comes to good food.”
Hymel makes pastries that are appealing to the taste buds, as well as the eye, because they are handmade.
“For us, our best seller is the almond cupcake,” Hymel said. “We can’t keep it in the case. I try some random pastries every so often to try new recipes, but they keep going back to the almond cupcake or the Funfetti (vanilla cake topped with sprinkles).”
At the Honeydoux Café in the Plantation View Medical Offices building in Destrehan, Hymel’s art is balancing taste buds with keeping customers coming for breakfast or lunch. While some pastries are dessert, others are melts or buttery croissants with home chicken salad, which is one of the most popular dishes at the cafe.
“I’ve noticed people are creatures of habit,” she said. “I can try to put new funky flavors or different things together, but they want this cupcake or chocolate chip cookies.”
Hymel’s dream of becoming a pastry chef was born in the kitchens of two of her grandparents who loved to cook, especially her grandmother who loved to bake.
“She made everything for the family,” Hymel said.
Amid the handiwork of their tantalizing work, the artistry of baking took root with this Destrehan resident.
“I always knew I wanted to go the culinary pastry route,” she said.
It’s why she chose Destrehan High School’s Satellite Center with a culinary program, which she attended her junior year and loved it.
“It was my first experience being in a professional style kitchen,” Hymel said. “The Satellite Center showed how a professional kitchen ran and the lingo, and it was my test to see if this was going to be a career or a hobby.”
By her senior year, she was still with it and now in the center’s Hotel, Res
taurant and Tourism program with an entrepreneurial direction. This time, she learned how to present herself as a professional by interacting with customers and how restaurants can affect tourism, as well as how they affect cities.
Hymel stepped up her career path by entering Nicholls State University’s Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. She prepared food at university events, as well as completed two internships with one of them at Sucre’ in New Orleans. There, she earned a business degree in the culinary arts with a minor in business.
Her work at Sucre’ prepped her for actual work in the food industry, calling it “my first experience in the real world.”
Adding to this experience, she did her second internship with the Disney College Program. Hymel spent five months in Florida for this program, where she worked in quick service at one of Disney’s resorts where she did everything from flipping burgers to working a cash register.
“Even though they’re this big company, they take pride in every little detail,” she said. “Paying attention to those details makes them successful.”
Hymel also worked in several more restaurants in her college years.
When she graduated, she returned to Sucre’ for another two years.
“During that time, someone approached me about opening my own place, which was my drea
m although I didn’t anticipate doing it for several years,” she said. “From that point, a place came available.”
It would take another year to work out the details and the nerve before Hymel could make the move.
“I’m a perfectionist,” she said. “I was waiting for that perfect moment,”
But her mother announced to her to bite the bullet and open the door. Step by step, with guidance from family members, she got closer to owning her business.
On Jan. 9, 2018, Hymel opened the doors to the Honeydoux Café, and she applying all she learned to keep it going.
“It’s a science,” she said of her art. “But at the end of the day, it’s got to taste good, too.”