Today we’d like to introduce you to Darrell Gunter.
Hi Darrell, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My story began as a young boy in my father’s kitchen in Virginia. I was reared by a single father, Larry, with the help of my grandmother “Lois”. Growing up, I remember my love of being the kitchen creating meals using various groceries found in our cabinets and refrigerator. They were many trials and errors (lol) but through those trials, I found my love for baking. With the help of my grandmother, my first dessert I learned to bake was a boxed lemon cake. As time progressed and my skills sharpened, I graduated to making boxed cheesecakes with cherries or strawberries.
My passion for cooking and baking really grew in 2002 once I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I was the Marine who would always bring either a lemon pound cake and/or banana pudding to any of my Marine Corps potlucks. Both were big hits. So much so that I was advised to sign up for cooking competitions.
In 2015, I signed up for a “Men Who Cook” competition sponsored by Okinawa’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I was awarded “Best Dessert” for my banana pudding and fried sweet potato cakes desserts. This award was so meaningful to me because it proved that the hard work and love I put into developing my recipes were finally paying off. Likewise, it was a great tribute to my grandmother as these desserts were some of my favorites that she would me for me growing up.
When I moved back to San Antonio, I wanted to continue to spread my love for cooking and volunteering. I continuously tested my recipes on friends and colleagues. Their feedback led me to start my business. It also opened doors for me to cater various other events for socials groups and executives in the San Antonio area. Before Covid I would get together with friends from a social group and cook a huge meal for the families staying at the local Ronald McDonalds House. One of the events that I was proud to cater was the Active-Duty Military & Former NFL Players Game Watch Party in (2021). It was a heartfelt event for me as it combined my loves of the military, cooking and giving back to others. It still amazes me that something I started doing in my father’s kitchen as a child has grown into a full blown business.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
So far, I have been blessed to have only experienced a few hiccups. One of those is ensuring I have the correct supplies in stock when attempting new recipes and flavors of cakes and cheesecakes. However, the main obstacle I’ve faced is determining the best way to mail desserts to out of state customers. I shipped a few desserts via priority shipping which turned out to be a bad idea as they were either late or lost. Now my “go-to” form of shipment is express overnight as this ensures that the customer receives their freshly made dessert on time. As I’ve said before, I’ve been lucky not to have any major obstacles. I think my time management skills are key in ensuring that I don’t become overwhelmed and that I maintain a healthy balance of my personal time and not burning myself out in the kitchen.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m a retired Marine who served honorably for 22 years. (Oorah to my fellow Devil Dogs) I’m currently employed by a great company here in San Antonio where I still get to support and interact the military community daily. I’m proud that my life experiences help me provide guidance to those I speak and interact with every day. The fact that I can get through to at least one person helps fulfill my mission in life to help others.
Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I LOVE reading and am a HUGE fan of the late Eric Jerome Dickey’s books. I think I have every book that he has written in my collection. I also love to interact and see what’s happening in the world via Twitter. It may be the funniest app ever invented! LOL. I follow several GREAT chefs and bakers on Twitter and Instagram. I love seeing their creativity daily. They inspire me to put on my apron, get in the kitchen and come up with something new.
- All my pricings are below. They vary depending on where they are being shipped (shipping costs vary per city/state):
- •Pound cakes and cheesecakes: $35 (plus shipping cost)
- •Loaves: $20 (plus shipping cost)
- Instagram: DzCakes22