fbpx

How Sweet It Is: Deborah Williams

Deborah Williams

Owner, Chewy Suz

Back story: Though Williams ultimately took the road likely never before traveled to achieve notoriety as a pastry chef, it didn’t start out that way. The South Florida native has loved baking since she was a youngster. In particular, she was immensely fond of the peanut butter cookies that her elderly neighbor baked for Williams and her 10 siblings.

So, she tried to replicate them without knowing the recipe, using her brothers and sisters as guinea pigs for her creations. Williams soon developed her own flair in the kitchen. But it wasn’t until much later that people other than friends and family recognized her gift.

At Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she worked for 22 years, mostly as an administrative assistant, Williams would bring in baked treats for her co-workers. Soon, she was being asked to help cater holiday parties at the hospital.

“My co-workers would tell a friend, and they’d tell a friend, about my treats,” Williams says. “And, suddenly, people were encouraging me to start something on my own. Deep down, that’s what I wanted to do.”

After leaving Jackson in 2009, Williams later launched an event catering service. But that eventually morphed into Chewy Suz, her online and food truck business that boasts everything from cakes and cupcakes to cookies, doughnuts, brownies, cake pops and much more. She admits she’s borrowed some family recipes along the way, “but I’ve perfected them.”

Thanks to social media and word-of-mouth, Williams has developed a following—notoriety that led to her first invite to the South Beach festival for the 21st Birthday Dessert Party on Feb. 25.

“I still feel like I’m dreaming,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of the festival. To have an opportunity to share Chewy Suz with all these people is just overwhelming.”

The cake: By her own admission, less is not more when it comes to Williams’ creations. She loves to go over the top with her designs—and this 21st birthday cake, in honor of the festival’s 21st edition, is no exception.

The foundation is one of Williams’ signature red velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting (spoiler alert: the touch of cinnamon in the frosting gives it a delicious something extra). She hand-created all of the sweet celebratory elements—mini doughnuts, mini bundt cakes, macarons, chocolate truffles—out of fondant and gum paste. Even the butterflies, made of wafer paper, are edible.

“The instructions were to have fun with this,” Williams says. “That’s what I did.”

Let them eat (more) cake: “As an independent baker, I’m not answering to anyone but myself,” Williams says. “So, I tend to give people more than what they ask for. You want a dozen cookies? I’ll give you a baker’s dozen. You need a two-layer cake? You may get a three-layer cake. I want to keep customers happy—and coming back.”

To that end: “I had to drive and drop off cookies to a client and her husband; they’re from California. The wife told me, ‘My husband has not found a chocolate chip cookie to match yours, so he wants yours.’ So, I baked them fresh cookies and dropped them off. Just the fact that people desire my baked goods? That they’re enjoying them that much? That’s mind-boggling to me.”

Photography by Eduardo Schneider

You May Also Like

Living Through Giving: Victoria Martoccia

South Florida philanthropists share insights into their charitable work and the life lessons that have influenced their endeavors.

Living Through Giving: Heidi Alzate Kaufman

Discover philanthropic pursuits of South Florida benefactors and their life lessons that shaped their charitable actions.

Living Through Giving: Eric J. Vainder

Discover the life lessons that shape the charitable endeavors of South Florida philanthropists.

Living Through Giving: Erica Stowers

South Florida philanthropists share the life lessons that shape their charitable endeavors.

Other Posts

Living Through Giving: Daren Koenig Cronin

Local philanthropists share the life lessons that guide their charitable work.

Culinary Magic

Meet Chef Jhonnatan Pinilla Contreras, the food artist behind one of Miami’s most opulent annual charity galas, the Make-A-Wish Ball.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Bill Feinberg’s profound impact on the local community extends far beyond a kitchen and bath business that’s celebrating 40 years.

The Accidental Entrepreneur

Kalista Zackhariyas’ childhood of neglect and uncertainty made her determined to help cure the harsh side of social media with Sparkseeker.