Couple opens food truck bakery after job loss - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Couple opens food truck bakery after job loss

January 25th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Couple opens food truck bakery after job loss

By Melody Birkett

Loss of work due to COVID-19 prompted Amber and Eric Leediker to start a new career and open a & e b.a.k.e.d at the Premium Outlets in Chandler.

“Eric and I both have strong roots in the kitchen,” said Amber. “It was just a natural progression. Like so many families, we had to learn to readjust and reinvent ourselves during COVID. So, it was a natural progression for us to come up with the bakery. Eric made up the name.”

“We’ve been in-and-out of the restaurant industry,” said Eric, who was laid-off as a car salesman. “We managed a couple of restaurants together. We’ve spent so much time developing our recipes together it just felt natural to apply that to a retail setting and see if we could find work for ourselves.”

Amber is also a respite habilitation provider and homeschools their four children.

“With COVID and the loss of work from the dealership…it was a hardship on us,” explained Eric. “I ended up being home full-time with Amber and that’s how we spawned the bakery together.”

Added Amber: “We were like, ‘How can we rub our pennies together?’ We did not apply for a small business loan. Every paycheck that came in, we allocated funds to get creative and do this.”

Eric said he and Amber “did all of the construction ourselves.”

“Amber did all of the graphic design, all of the photography, all of the food you see in our photos,” he explained. “That’s actually our food. None of that is stock footage. That’s from our home kitchen.”

“Even when I worked full-time, we always tried to collaborate and find something to mesh our talents together,” Eric said. “We love it.”

Amber describes herself and Eric as “entrepreneurs at heart.”

“So, we always have something up our sleeve,” she said.

Married 10 years, the couple also has the Mad Dog Happy Salads food cart but that business is on hold due to COVID.

Nothing is produced in the a and e b.a.k.e.d. food truck. Everything is baked and packaged for consumption offsite.

Amber said people like “our very high-quality products.”

“We’re an organic bakery and we cater to a lot of people who have dietary needs. We offer plant-based, gluten-free and keto.”

It’s also a joint effort.

“We do everything as a team,” Eric said. “We’re connected at the hip.”

The bakery also offers traditional baked goods without dietary restrictions.

“We source the finest organic ingredients,” said Eric. “There’s never a preservative. No GMOs. No additives.”

Asked why, Amber replied, “We wanted to put our lifestyles into the food that we offer others.”

Eric explained, “If you take one of our traditional cakes in our standard form or one of our plant-based cakes and you eat them side-by-side, the consistency is so close that nobody is missing out on this. And that’s one of the beautiful things about using high-quality, simple ingredients is you can create such beautiful, enjoyable things.”

Some of the more popular menu items are olive oil cakes that come in all sizes and flavors, cinnamon rolls, brownies plus bread and bagels.

A variety of cookies includes gluten-free chocolate chip, regular sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies with bing cherries, chocolate and organic coconut.

“Half of our recipes we have written on our own,” said Amber. “We’ve done this ever since we’ve been together. Some of our recipes are inherited. We have a cookie recipe that’s over 100 years old. The olive oil cake recipe is from my grandfather who’s from Italy. They’re very traditional but our own at the same time.”

Eric said he and Amber try to “put a nice flare on it.”

“We use the traditional processes but we do our own flare on flavors and how we deliver them and package them,” he said.

“We do everything in small batches and it just produces a higher quality at the end-of-the-day,” explained Amber, who said the couple does the baking overnight.

“We haven’t outsourced anything yet,” said Amber. So, it’s been manageable for us to do every aspect, so far.”

In addition to the food truck, Eric said, “We do weddings. We have a special event cake. We do up to a three-tier cake. We do special offers. We would love to cater to offices. We’re available to do anything.”

Although the couple doesn’t sell pies in the bakery, they can make them or just about any kind of baked good on special order.

“We always have been the entertainers of our entire family – both sides,” Amber said. “We’re known for having these huge dinner parties and doing the cooking and baking for all of it. It’s just been one of our passions in life to share that with others. So this we can do on a larger scale. We’re optimistic, right now. We’re really enthusiastic and super excited for the future.”

“We feel blessed that even though the world is turned upside down, right now, we’re able to work together as a husband and wife team and still be able to provide for our four kids,” Eric added. “And we get to be together. So, it’s the best of both worlds.”