My days are very different now than they were a year ago. Back then, I worked as a low-grade sous chef at my uncle’s Albuquerque restaurant. Now I’m using my training as a pastry chef and cake artist to run Zydeco Cakes, one of New Orleans’ premiere bakeries. It’s a dream job, and I’m thrilled to have it. I just wish I’d come by it a different way.
I got the job at Zydeco after my almost-ex-husband was brutally murdered and now I’m in partnership with my mother-in-law (if only on a technicality), Miss Frankie Renier. Don’t get me wrong. I adore Miss Frankie and I understand why she’s so eager to keep me around now that her only child is dead. Without me, she’s alone. But understanding and needing each other doesn’t mean that we agree about everything. And that’s why I try to keep the day-to-day issues under wraps. If I ran to Miss Frankie every time one of my eccentric, emotional, and very talented staff members had an issue, I’d have to camp on her doorstep.
Right now, we’re gearing up for Mardi Gras so my days are a bit different than they are during the rest of the year. I’m up at the crack of dawn and I tumble into bed long after midnight, exhausted from juggling two very different sides of the business. On the one hand, we’re still creating artistic high-end cakes for weddings and other special functions. On the other, I’m overseeing the almost assembly-line production of King Cakes for Mardi Gras.
The King Cake tradition came to New Orleans with the early French settlers, and it’s still a vital part of the Mardi Gras celebration. Custom dictates that King Cake cannot be served before Twelfth Night (the 12th day of Christmas, or January 6) or after Mardi Gras Day – which makes for a very short but intense season. The cake itself celebrates the three wise men, and the ceramic baby that’s baked into each King Cake represents the baby Jesus. If you find the baby in your piece of cake, you’re on tap to host the next party.
And that’s why, besides scrambling to keep up with my work at the bakery, I’m also going a little crazy at the prospect of hosting the Captain’s Court for the Krewe of Musterion this year. Philippe (the almost-ex) got the baby at last year’s party. According to Miss Frankie, I got custody of the baby when he died. I’m not sure she’s right, but I’ve been fighting a losing battle. So now I’m also responsible for observing a bunch of traditions I know nothing about and making sure that the krewe’s movers and shakers have the time of their lives.
Piece of cake, right?
Tell that to the dead guy in the swimming pool.
** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of CAKE ON A HOT TIN ROOF to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends February 16. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **
Meet the author:
Jacklyn Brady lives on the Gulf Coast and writes the “Piece of Cake” mystery series set in New Orleans, which features cake artist and trained pastry chef, Rita Lucero. CAKE ON A HOT TIN ROOF is the second book in the series. A Sheetcake Named Desire was released in August 2011. Look for book #3 (tentatively titled Arsenic And Old Cake) in the fall of 2012. You can visit her at www.jacklynbrady.com or find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.