The Time I Worked at That Celebrity Bakery
by Matthew J.X. Malady
People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, Becca Laurie tells us more about some famous people who enjoy eating cupcakes.
@katespencer i worked at a bakery that a lot of celebs liked. i still remember who treated me well (and tipped more than a few pennies)
— Becca Laurie (@imbeccable) August 12, 2014
Becca! So what happened here?
A decade ago, I applied for a bakery job on a whim. I had no experience, and I’d never been to this specific bakery before. I was out to dinner with friends, and we stopped in for dessert. I filled out an application and started training the next week.
The bakery was having a moment: It was featured on a TV show, and that meant a ton of tourists and a handful of celebrities. I worked there for two consecutive summers. By the end of the second year, the hype started to die down, and so did the frequency of famous customers. My memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but here’s who I remember:
— Lindsay Lohan, days before she turned eighteen
This was a few months after Mean Girls, and I was so excited to see her. She was wearing a Harley Davidson baseball tee, and I watched her smoke a cigarette in front of the bakery windows.
— Billy Joel and his then-wife
I’m pretty short (5’1). The average person is much taller than me, but not Billy Joel. We were basically at eye level. When most of the adult population is taller than you, seeing eye-to-eye is a rare, intimate experience. We shared a moment. I think he asked about the Magic Cookie Bars. They left without buying anything.
— Billy Crudup and Claire Danes
Billy got a slice of key lime pie. This was a few weeks after their relationship went public, and it felt scandalous! He was really nice, and I remember thinking his choice of dessert fit his personality. He lived in Florida for a while. Maybe he was homesick!
— Mary Kate Olsen
She was also incredibly short. I felt like I towered over her, and I don’t tower over anybody.
— Vanessa Carlton and Stephen Jenkins (from Third Eye Blind)
They came in as the bakery was closing one night, and we had a bunch of leftover cupcakes. If the night was really dead, we would offer extra cupcakes sometimes (otherwise they would go in the trash). I offered an extra cupcake to V and S, and Stephen replied “well, every cupcake is an extra cupcake if you know what I mean.” Ten years later, his response still haunts me.
Which celebrities were the best tippers, and the nicest people?
There were two really memorable experiences. The first was Brittany Murphy. She was so energetic. She was with a friend who had never been to the bakery. Brittany wanted her friend to try everything. She told us that she used to live in the neighborhood and would get a slice of cake on her way home from auditions or work or whatever. I think she got a slice of every cake we sold. One of my coworkers was a struggling actress, and Brittany looked into her eyes and told her to never give up, and that she was destined for good things, because she had a good soul. She was so genuinely kind. She tipped really well.
Pharrell came into the bakery on a rainy September weeknight. He bought two cupcakes (one for him, one for his friend), and paid with his AMEX Black Card. Remember those? They were a big deal in 2004. The total for his order was $3.50. He made a joke about charging such a small amount to the card and left a really big tip. I kept the receipt. Sorry!
Lesson learned (if any)?
Be nice. To strangers, to people you meet, but especially to service industry workers. A little kindness goes a long way.
Just one more thing.
Waiting in line for food of any kind is rarely worth it.
Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.