Hidden behind the chewy, chocolate-chip cookies, fluffy-on-the-outside but crunchy-on-the-inside croissants, and plethora of cakes and pies at the Design District’s Crumb on Parchment is 27-year-old Jessica Hernandez. Though James Beard Award-winning Chef Michelle Bernstein is the mastermind behind the bakery/cafe in the atrium of the Melin Building, Hernandez is the hands-on, day-in-and-day-out maker of the eatery’s beloved pastries.
During school at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Hernandez won a Crisco contest, which gave her the opportunity to spend a day with Bernstein as part of her prize. In the months following that day, and after gushing about her love for baking with the acclaimed chef, Hernandez was asked to join the Crumb team permanently when an opening emerged.
“I was working at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach at the time when Michelle asked me to come to Crumb,” says Hernandez. “Their former pastry chef was in need of an assistant, so I went and I fell in love with the place.”
Hernandez has been with Crumb for about three years, and is now the lead pastry chef. She arrives at the eatery every morning around 6:30 for breakfast production. “I start with everything from croissants, muffins, to scones,” says Hernandez. “At 10 a.m. I add more cookies, cakes, and brownies.”
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Everything at Crumb is made from scratch. Hernandez never prepares a large amount of any treat, in an effort to guarantee every pastry is as fresh as it can be. While Crumb has staples like its chocolate-chip cookies, banana bread, scones, and sponge cakes, Hernandez tries to mix it up to give diners a different experience every time they visit. “I’ll try to do different flavors each day, but lately now that its summer, I’ve been doing different ice cream dishes and other specials that are cold that you wouldn’t normally find on our counter,” she says.
Hernandez jokes that if she doesn’t have enough of Crumb’s signature chocolate-chip cookies, visitors go a little crazy. She describes the recipe as having a “great balance.” “People seriously freak out if they’re not there,” she laughs. “There’s over two pounds of chocolate in the batter and the cookie is enough to fill three people. They’re really one of our most popular items.”
Hernandez has loved baking since she was a little girl and hopes to one day open her own café with great pastries and coffee — a place where guests can just relax as she puts it. In the meantime, you can keep up with Hernandez’s latest bakery adventures by following her on Instagram.