Jose Barajas, South Bay native known for elaborately designed cakes, creations and confections now showcases his award winning craftsmanship at the newly established bakery Mmm…Cakes perched in downtown Chula Vista.
Located on Third Avenue near F Street, Mmm..Cakes’ Golden Girls inspired space of approximately 2,300 square-feet featuring a full range of baked goods, breakfast pastries, custom creations, whole cakes and as by the slice. Their cheese Danish earned its place as a top seller along with cinnamon rolls since their grand opening.
“I like to tell people that if Blanche was alive now, this would be her place. We just want to make it super fun and Instagrammable. From the big parrot chandelier that we have in our booth, to all the fun little pictures in the restroom and the stickers of the hands with the lipsticks to our neon light on the wallpaper, we really want to be like where people just take pictures where they’re at in this bakery,” he said.
In partnership with his brother along with his sister in-law in, Mmm…Cakes is operated by members of Barajas’ family helping when needed. With 15 years of professional baking experience, Barajas strives to be the “it bakery” of his home town. Plans to attain a license to sell beer and liquor are underway.
“One of the things that we hear on almost a daily basis is that Chula Vista needed this. They needed this kind of bakery that is higher end. It’s not your basic panaderia although they’re great here, especially on the avenue. But, people are going to Downtown and Little Italy for those Instagrammable and pretty bakeries. We finally have one,” he said.
Born in Tijuana and raised in Chula Vista where he is graduated from Hilltop High School, his roots into the world of confections stem from his mother who was a cake decorator. “I took onto her footsteps,” he said. At the age of 19, Barajas graduated from the San Diego Culinary Institute, then found work at a wholesale bakery specializing in making desserts for high-end restaurants, hotels, the Convention Center and Petco Park.
During his youth, Barajas worked at the Standlee’s Cake Supply Shop, which now sits across the street from his establishment.
“We were raised here all of our lives. I’ve seen the rise and the fall, and the re-rise of downtown Chula Vista. It’s a really good feeling to be a part of reviving it,” he said.
One goal in place for Mmm…Cakes is to be a hub for senior citizens to enjoy. Every Tuesday since their opening, a group of older people have their morning walks and finish at the bakery for a pastry paired with a cup of Spirit Mountain Roast coffee, a small Native American owned business from Northern California.
Barajas competed at his first competition in 2014 on TLC’s “Next Great Baker” and has six competitions under his belt, hailing victory in the most recent two. This earned his work a decent following on Instagram.
“We appreciate any input. We just really want to be a great bakery and the support from the community is great. So far, we’ve had great reactions. We just want the community to understand that we are growing little-by-little and the demand has been really crazy. We try to put something out and it’s already gone. We are a small, but mighty group. With patience, we’ll be able to serve everybody,” he said.