Terry Zila of johnjeanjuan wants to make your wedding dessert one that is not easily forgotten. He dares you to stray away from the traditional chocolate, vanilla or marble cake and have fun with it! With a motto of “If you can think of it, I can make it” you are sure to end up with a dessert that both you and your guests will be drooling over.” Read more about this unique and delicious dessert option in this week’s V-O-W!
Q: What does johnjeanjuan Specialize in?
A: johnjeanjuan started as a wedding cake business, but has morphed into a full-service pastry business. My motto is: “If you can think of it, I can make it” It’s all about the client’s perspective with regard to what their ideal dessert might be. My job it to bring that dream to fruition.
Q: How did johnjeanjuan start?
A: I’ve been doing pastries for a long time. In the late 90’s, I did desserts for several restaurants in Minneapolis. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a few non-culinary creative ventures, but everything led back to food. I was waiting tables a restaurant called The Lobster in Santa Monica, and two members of the staff got engaged and asked me to do the cake. The response was fantastic, so I knew I had to expand on that.
Q: How did you come up with the name johnjeanjuan?
A: My middle name is John and my Mother’s side of the family all called me TJ and a lot of people called me John. When I lived in LA, everyone called me John or Juan (John in Spanish) Somehow that morphed into people calling me John Juan. Then it became Juan Juan. And then the idea of John in English, John in French and John in Spanish became this idea of johnjeanjuan. Also, it sounded kind of wedding-y. I loved the way it sounded and loved how it looked in type, so I went with it !!!
Q: When did you know you wanted to start your own business?
A: I guess I always wanted to, but I didn’t really know how to go about it. Having worked in both Front of the House and Back of the House positions in the restaurant industry, I would always hear about people’s dream of doing their own thing. Also, in the pastry world, the hours can be very long and the pay isn’t always spectacular, to say the least. I thought if I wanted to make my living at this, I needed to forge my own path. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Q: What makes johnjeanjuan stand out in terms of wedding dessert options?
A: I think the variety of desserts I’m able to offer is what makes johnjeanjuan stand out. Of course we can provide you with a spectacular cake, but that’s just the beginning: Cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, croissants, cupcakes, French macarons, brownies, candy. We even have savory pastry options available. It’s really about finding a way to say “Yes” to make each client’s event special.
Q: What are some unique dessert options you offer for weddings?
A: It’s always fun to surprise people. Matcha Tea Cake with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream and Chocolate Stout Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream are two new cakes I’m offering that always get fantastic feedback. One of my most popular cakes is my Pink Grapefruit Crunch Cake. It’s a pound cake-like texture with a crunch on top of each layer of cake. People love it because it’s something they haven’t had before. There’s a world out there beyond Chocolate and Vanilla that I want my clients to experience.
Q: What is an average day in your life like?
A: There is no average day for me as every day is completely different. On any given day I may be making a cake, then pies, then croissants, and then on to a savory catering event. That’s the beauty of my job. Never a dull moment.
Q: What would you want couples to know about choosing their perfect wedding day dessert option?
A: Don’t be afraid to take a flavor chance. It’s easy to get trapped in the thought process of Chocolate, Vanilla or Marble because couples often think of what everyone else will like. It’s your day, so make a great bold choice and make it a truly memorable, delicious experience that everyone will be talking about!
Q: Do you have any memorable experiences working with couples that you could share with us?
A: I just did a wedding cake for a vegan couple. They couldn’t find a vendor that was willing or able to create a cake within the constructs of vegan dietary principles. I have quite a bit of experience in vegan savory cooking, but hadn’t done much vegan baking, but I thought, let’s give it a go! I took a few days to research different types of cake and made sure that the flavors and textures were something I would be proud to serve. I hosted a small tasting for them with 4 flavors of vegan cake and 4 types of vegan frosting, and nailed it. It was a great opportunity for me to expand on my skill and now I have new options to offer all my clients because of that experience. Also, I now have made new friends for life with the couple and their families.
Q: What is your favorite cake flavor?
A: I enjoy all baked goods, so it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I do have a favorite cake memory. Every year, my Grandma Zila would make a White Cake with Lemon Filling and a 7-Minute Frosting covered in coconut for all the grandkids birthdays. I didn’t know until years later that everything was out of a box; the cake mix, the Jello lemon pudding, the Jiffy Fluffy Frosting mix. But it still felt special as it was the only time during the year someone baked something just for me. Now, I make a scratch Coconut Cake, Homemade Lemon Curd Filling and 7-Minute Frosting. I must say, my version is better, but I can’t eat a piece of that cake and not think of her. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t from scratch because she made an effort to make me feel special. And that’s what pastry really means to me; making others feel special through my baking.
Q: Anything else you want couples to know about johnjeanjuan?
A: Let’s have fun with this! Your wedding is a special day, and the pastries are the last thing everyone will eat at your reception. Let’s make a memory!
Q: Red or White?
Q: Favorite late night snack?
A: Cheese & Crackers. Or leftovers meant for tomorrow night’s dinner
Q: White or Ivory?
Q: Chocolate or Vanilla?
A: Vanilla, because good vanilla is harder to do than one might think.
Q: Coffee- black, cream or sugar?
A: None. It’s TaB Cola for me!
Q: Favorite music genre?
Q: Favorite dessert?
A: The one that’s in front of me at any given moment.
Q: What is your hidden talent?
A: I speak Chinese, Spanish and Italian
Images Courtesy of johnjeanjuan