Ten Minutes with Robert Twardzik
An Architect and Pastry Chef
Photo by Stan Godlewski
Robert Twardzik trained as an architect before turning to the pastry arts. But don’t be mistaken; his confections have a balance and articulated design that you would find in any beautiful structure. A resident of Southport, he recently talked with us about his business Bakehaus 561, his latest creations, and his friend Martha Stewart.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Philadelphia and moved to New York City where I honed my skills and sought the creative opportunities that fuel my engine.
When did you first start baking?
You could find me in the kitchen at age five watching and helping my mother and grandmother make cakes, pies, cookies, and confections creating lifelong memories.
Did you have formal training to become a pastry chef?
I left a successful career as a commercial architect to study at Peter Kump’s cooking school in New York, where I graduated with a pastry arts degree. I was mentored by Jacques Torres and my first job was as pastry cook at Chanterelle. From there I went on to Danny Meyer’s Tabla and to Taste NYC
You have a famous friend — Martha Stewart. What is it like working with her?
I was influenced by Martha Stewart long before I met her. She continues to inspire me with her creativity, business instincts, curiosity, boundless energy, and wicked sense of humor. And I love being Martha’s kitchen accomplice—our recent Facebook Live baking segment where we shared recipes, rolling pins, and decorating techniques was tremendous fun.
Are you also a good cook—or do you stick to baking?
I am actually a good cook with good instincts but find it to be tedious. I prefer the unforgiving structure of the pastry arts. Invariably a pastry chef’s screw up goes directly into the trash whereas the culinary chef can still serve road kill with a great sauce.
What are Bakehaus 561’s latest creations—we heard dogs would be happy, too?
Currently we have a giftable seasonal assortment of gingerbread, chocolate cookies, meringues, and marzipan at the Fairfield Women’s Exchange in Southport. And I just launched Tiggeroos, my line of organic and gluten-free dog treats.
What is the origin of the name of your company?
My paternal grandfather was born in Vienna so Bakehaus 561 is a nod to his birthplace and its heritage of fine European baking traditions.
Where might we find you relaxing?
A tennis court is my place of refuge. I can focus on the ball and for that time sublimate all the white noise and chatter.
What is your dream vacation?
An African safari — to be so close to incredible animals in their habitats would be amazing.
What is your personal motto?
I actually have two: “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough,” and “Drive German, wear Italian, drink Scotch, kiss French.”