Seeking something sweet

Edgar Velazquez initiates Vel Bakery, collaborates with All For Your Cakes

Edgar+Velazquez+stands+alongside+new+co-workers+Araceli+Prado+and+Adriana+Hernandez+outside+All+For+Your+Cakes.

Andrea Plascencia

Edgar Velazquez stands alongside new co-workers Araceli Prado and Adriana Hernandez outside All For Your Cakes.

By Andrea Plascencia, Lewisville High School - TX

It began as a vacation, nothing but a casual trip to the United States. But as life goes, plans change. The vacation turned into a permanent stay, and the coronavirus pandemic became the fuel for a newfound American dream. 

During the pre-COVID era, Edgar Velazquez was clueless about the life awaiting him in America. He had no idea about the inner workings of a business or the hassle that accompanies being a bakery owner. All Velazquez had was a love of baking and an immense desire for growth. 

Velazquez immigrated to the United States from his home country of Venezuela in November of 2019. Shortly thereafter, he decided to stay in Texas and begin a new chapter of his life. Unemployed for two months, he began working at a Hilton hotel in Southlake during January of this year. Although challenging, Velazquez’s time at the Hilton would eventually mark a turning point in his life. 

“I started as a dishwasher,” Velazquez said. “I remember days where there were [hundreds of] services [to perform]. It was a disaster, it was an absurd job. There were no hours, hours didn’t exist. [I’d] get out at 2 [or] 3 a.m.” 

Despite the demanding regime, Velazquez, who had attended culinary school and had a business of his own in Venezuela, was thankful for his close proximity to the kitchen. Even still, Velazquez felt he could go beyond his given tasks, so he reached out to his employer and the hotel’s executive chef, Darlian Rodriguez.

“Edgar helped me a lot [during his time at the Hilton],” Rodriguez said. “I was needing a lot of extra help at the time and he helped me cover an area in which I had no personnel.” 

What I want to transfer to people is that sensation of being able to taste something that is divine, very good, but also brings back memories of [their] home countries.”

— baker Edgar Velazquez

As his three months at the Hilton came to a close, Velazquez ventured off to explore his culinary and business abilities. This was a delight for Rodriguez, as he saw tremendous potential in his employee. 

“[Velazquez] asked me if it was OK if he left [Hilton],” Rodriguez said. “I asked him ‘What are you waiting for?’ [because] I already knew he had a natural talent [for baking]. I supported [his decision] to leave so he could initiate [a new] path.” 

What followed after was an experimental stage in Velazquez’s life. In his free time, which eventually turned into the COVID-19 pandemic, he occupied himself by baking at home. Taking orders from friends and those familiar with his creations, Velazquez was able to expand his artistic vision. Additionally, he received praise from those he baked for, which in turn, gave him the motivation to continue. 

In spite of the positive affirmations, Velazquez recognized he was limited in his resources at home. The approval of the public, coupled with his newfound desire to improve his craft, helped him acknowledge it was time to take bigger steps. 

“After baking [for so long] at home, I reached my limit,” Velazquez said. “There was a moment where I felt like I couldn’t bake anymore. At home, you just don’t have the necessary equipment. You start to feel trapped. People ask and ask [for products] and there’s no way to [make] them. You can’t meet [your goal]. It starts to weigh you down because you want to tend to people, one way or another. That’s the purpose of creating something.” 

In making this realization, Velazquez took to social media, officially launching his Instagram, @velbakery, on March 28. Featuring a wide-range of desserts, such as classics like fruit tarts and birthday cake, to desserts traditional in Venezuela, Velazquez garnered hundreds of followers on his page. With this, Vel Bakery began. 

Though his creations were becoming popular and acquired plenty of positive reviews, he continued to feel bound by limitations. In his development of Vel Bakery, he stumbled upon bakery supply store, All For Your Cakes. It was here he met one of the store’s owners, Araceli Prado, for the first time.

“He was looking for certain materials for some cakes and he showed up at the store looking for [these] supplies,” Prado said. “I got the chance to help him [find them]. I didn’t really know what he did for a living, but we [had] a brief conversation and I gave him some ideas as to what we could offer him. And he liked the products I recommended to him. Later, there was contact via Instagram. That’s when I realized what he did.”

Velazquez became invested in the store and began to visualize himself working there. As he shared these ideas with Prado, she made him an offer to teach classes over different baking aspects, but he declined, as language is a barrier. Velazquez’s proposition, seeing as the store had plentiful kitchen space, was to install a bakery within the cake supply store. In doing so, they’d have an establishment that was not only a bakery but a supply provider as well. 

The progress [Velazquez] has made from when he arrived as a dishwasher to where he is now is excellent, because he started from the ground up. And he continues to climb.”

— chef Darlian Rodriguez

“[Velazquez] saw the kitchen and the possibilities that [existed] in the bakery. He said ‘This would be a dream for me, to be able to create here and have my products available to the public.’ That’s where [the] interest to work together arose, [to form] some kind of team.”

Eventually, with meticulous planning and organizing, the incorporation of Vel Bakery into All For Your Cakes kickstarted on July 15. Following the sellout of Velazquez’s products after the grand opening, the newly-established team found their collaboration to be successful, even in spite of the on-going pandemic. 

“People, [because] they have so much time at home, have had a chance to see everything I do,” Velazquez said. “Being at home gives you a chance to watch movies, to eat sweets, to share with your family. [The only thing is] birthday [celebrations] have diminished. But there’s not a lack of sales. Obviously, there are limitations as far as contact [and such], [but] I know [business will] be [even] better once this passes.” 

Velazquez, joyous that he is able to make a living solely off his greatest passion, keeps humility and a love for his home country at the forefront of his business. Above all, he looks to bring back the taste of Venezuela to those who long for home. 

“What has inspired me most since I opened [my business] is the people’s response,” Velazquez said. “What I want to transfer to people is that sensation of being able to taste something that is divine, very good, but also brings back memories of [their] home countries. It’s like a travel experience. Like going and getting that flavor of something you hadn’t had in years.”

Rodriguez, who has witnessed Velazquez’s transformation throughout the past seven months, credits his swift rise to success to his personality, to his endless devotion to create and innovate. He believes this is only the beginning for Velazquez. 

“The progress [Velazquez] has made from when he arrived as a dishwasher to where he is now is excellent, because he started from the ground up,” Rodriguez said. “And he continues to climb. He hasn’t gotten where he’s going. Where he wants to go, he hasn’t gotten [to] yet.” 

Though he does not have one singular goal for the future, Velazquez hopes it consists of growth and learning. His focus is to continue listening to the needs of the public while staying true to his artistic vision, unafraid to step out of his comfort zone. 

“There are moments where I just feel this immense urge to create,” Velazquez said. “This is something that torments me, in the best way. It’s this constant feeling of ‘You have to do something, make something.’ I’m in search of something that I don’t even know. At some point, I will have it. Obviously, it will be some new product, but every day all I think about is ‘What is it?’”

This story was originally published on Farmers’ Harvest on October 13, 2020.