A01 a baker and a chopper

Keeping it local


In the mood for something baked? How about something chopped?

Believe it or not, that’s exactly what the original premise for BakeChop was when Taylor Bass and Stevie Vermillion opened the restaurant in 2015.

The two women took over the space at 110 Artisan Alley that had been home to Dally in the Alley restaurant, opened in 2012 by Melanie Perryman, Stevie’s aunt.

When Melanie decided to close her eatery, Stevie, a pastry chef with a business degree from Stetson University, and Taylor, a sous-chef, had the radical idea to take over the restaurant and give it their own spin.

Taylor said she thought DeLand was missing something in the restaurant line, and she didn’t want to see the Artisan Alley location turn into something that wouldn’t satisfy that need.

“I went to the owners, and I told them my idea, and they told me I should talk with Stevie, because we would make a good team,” Taylor said.

As it turned out, Stevie had already been thinking of turning the 1,200-square-foot restaurant space into a bakery.

After the two had met to talk about the future of the space, they decided to combine their ideas.

The restaurant the two women would open, they decided, would offer healthful choices, burgers, and pastries, and it would be called BakeChop — combining their respective skills and ideas.
Making the short walk from The Beacon office to BakeChop, I was greeted by Taylor and BakeChop head chef Michael Ellis.

A conscious effort on Taylor and Stevie’s part when BakeChop opened was to make sure all of their food was of high quality, with locally sourced ingredients.
“Some think everything is meat-based, but we pride ourselves on our fruits and vegetables,” Taylor said.

BakeChop caters to people with varied tastes and diets, such as vegan and gluten-free, as much as they cater to those who just like a good burger.

“Food for everyone, so no one feels left out,” Taylor said.
They source their meat from five distributors, and their vegetables come from local farmers.
“Common Ground Organic Farm on Taylor Road grows just for us,” Mike said.

The DeLand farm supplies collard greens and salad greens. Noble Roots Farm in Eustis is another local supplier.

Just about everything is homemade at BakeChop, even the mayonnaise.

“We could probably make our own catsup, but I think people would still prefer Heinz,” Mike joked.

Being a person of high class and sophistication, I had called in the day before and requested a slice of cherry pie be available, if possible.

An observation I've made is that none of the many restaurants I've had the pleasure of visiting so far have had this tasty baked dessert.
What in reality was just a joke made in passing, was taken quite seriously by BakeChop and its bakers, Sande Bautista and Aileen Kahn.

BakeChop’s cherry pie came in a personal size, with some of the tartest cherries I’ve ever tasted.
It was a very good pie that was much fresher than the cherry pie that can be found at my local grocery store.

Even the drinks at BakeChop are special, including locally made lemonade, seasonal sangria, and a selection of craft beers and fine wines.

Trilogy Coffee Roasting Co., a popular coffee establishment just down the street, brews a special blend of coffee that can be found only at BakeChop.

My guest, Beaconite Gabrielle Glick, placed an order of made-from-scratch quiche, which comes with a side salad.

The blend of fresh vegetables and cheese in one pie-shaped piece of quiche was delicious and filling, reportedly without some of the heaviness of your typical quiche.
“The Swamp Salad is also a simple blend of fresh local ingredients that packs a flavorful punch. You can’t beat the homemade vinaigrette,” Gabby said, adding, “As usual, BakeChop did not disappoint.”

Taylor also gave us a complimentary Samoa Cupcake. Rich chocolate and toasted-coconut-topped buttercream frosting made it as delicious as its Girl Scout inspiration.
On my side of the table, I decided to go with a burger, specifically The Left Hander.

A good friend of mine, Kevin Santiago, once told me BakeChop has some of the best burgers he’s ever tasted. I can happily report that his recommendation was spot on.

Beef, chorizo, plantain salsa, cilantro aioli, manchego, and an avocado spread all play well-orchestrated parts in this handheld. The diverse flavors somehow coalesce into a burger that left me wanting more and more of it.

My side was a good portion of sweet-potato fries that I believe put other sweet-potato fries — and french fries, in general — to shame.

There’s just something about the sweetness, freshness and minor saltiness that are present in these sweet-potato fries that makes these fries the cream of the crop.
Weekend specials also play a huge part of BakeChop’s appeal, and those change every Friday and Saturday.

Mike and Taylor agreed a key reason for BakeChop’s popularity is the atmosphere their employees establish by working hard to make sure the mission of delivering great-quality food, with an emphasis on consistency and good service, is upheld.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Mike said.

He told me everyone strives to make sure all details are correct 100 percent of the time, and that the best way a restaurant can accomplish that high goal is by supporting the staff.

“You can tell when employees are miserable. We have a lot of customers say they feel that we enjoy this, and that we enjoy each other,” Taylor said.

“I think it’s a special place,” she added, and Mike echoed, “It really is a special place.”