Business just keeps getting better for Hollie Fraser.
In the three-and-a-half months she’s been operating her new Hastings Street bakery, Punk Rock Pastries, delivering sweets in a most weird and macabre fashion, she’s managed a rather grotesque Cinderella story.
When she first took control of the storefront at 5548 Hastings St., Fraser endured a textbook small business start. Even with money – and backup money – to kickstart her bakery, Fraser couldn’t keep up with the new costs that kept on coming, be it rewiring the building or replacing the plumbing. In order to get Punk Rock Pastries off the ground, Fraser had to run two fundraisers.
“Nobody tells you that when you go to open a business – you have a whole bunch of money, but they never tell you the amount of problems you’ll have,” Fraser said. “Every time they opened a wall, they found something new.”
But Fraser managed to open the bakery in July, and she’s been on a roll ever since – to cap it off, she took the top prize in the Big Bake’s Halloween competition on the Food Network last week.
“We totally didn’t think we were going to win, because our cakes fell over, and I dropped the cake. Anything that could go wrong that day went wrong,” she said. “It was awesome.”
Still, the cakes shaped into a grotesque stack of rotten pumpkins won over the judges not only by their appearance but by the taste, and Fraser’s team won the competition.
Punk Rock Pastries was busy before the Food Network appearance, but now the hoarde has the taste of blood, and Fraser can hardly keep up. On Halloween, Fraser sold out multiple times and even had to take a trip to the store to buy ingredients, and she also sold out over the following weekend.
Anyone brought to the store by Fraser’s performance on the Food Network won’t be disappointed, either. In fact, Fraser’s style of baking and the Halloween season is a match made in heaven – or hell, for that matter.
Massive thank you to @foodnetworkca for allowing us to show the world what we can do. Going on food network has been a dream of mine since I first went to culinary school(a crazy 18 years ago) so this is just mind blowing. A massive thank you to the judges @harryeatsfood @chefeddiejackson @chefannaolson meeting you three was absolutely the cherry on top. And to have you taste our cake and love it well I'm still smiling. A huge thank you to @bradcsmith who kept us laughing through the whole show. And last but definitely not lease our competitors @epicconfections and Tasha (cant find u on insta anywhere) you guys put up absolutely amazing cakes I hope I get to see you guys again cause you where so much fun to talk to, I'm lucky to have met such talented amazing cake artists, I love you guys. I wont cry again i promise lol #punkrockpastries #TheBigBakehalloween #thefoodnetwork #vancouver #vancouvercakes #canada #foodnetworkchampions #weareallwinnersreally #cakeartistlove #cakeartist #cakedecorator #yvrchef
Each pastry is a creation that’s gruesome, ghastly, spooky, weird, morbid or all of the above. Her pastries range from cupcakes decorated with (fake, edible) blood and (candy) glass or a (fondant) severed finger to creations made to look like human hearts or grubs.
“I have days where I’m all, ‘what can I make?’ And then I’ll pop on a movie or I’ll look at something, and then something triggers the mind, like ‘Oh, I’m going to make a lobster claw-like cake, but I’m going to do it (with) salted caramel, so it’s almost sea flavours,’ ” Fraser said.
And it’s caught the notice of both local scenes – not only the baking scene, but also the punk scene. She’s in the wall behind the front counter, a handful of legends have left their mark. That includes the signatures of punk band DOA founder and current Burnaby city councillor Joe Keithley (AKA Joey Shithead), Bif Naked drummer Sean Stubbs and local rapper Moka Only.
Fraser says the bakery is just an expression of herself, from the punk bands’ posters on the wall to the macabre baking. She sees punk as something beyond music – it’s “away of life; it’s an attitude.” By making her pastries her way, after years of working in a variety of other people’s restaurants and bakeries, she’s realizing the punk dream – just being herself and making a living of it.