In January, a new bakery opened in New Orleans’ Bywater, headed by a chef who is anything but new to the city’s pastry scene. Bywater Bakery is owned and operated by pastry chef extraordinaire Chaya Conrad. You may not recognize her name, but with a resume including stints at Arnaud’s Restaurant, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Whole Foods, and Rouses, there is a good chance that you have enjoyed her sugary concoctions. One of Conrad’s most recognized items is the Berry Chantilly cake, sold at Whole Food Markets around the country.
The bakery, which opened its doors just in time for Carnival season, initially only sold gourmet king cakes — thousands of king cakes. Once festivities died down, Conrad expanded the menu to include breakfast, lunch, and of course, desserts, with a focus on high-end products that can be taken to go. Visitors can start their mornings off with a cup of coffee provided by Coast Roast, grab a sweet or savory pastry from the quick-service case, or order one of the many innovative breakfast go-cups, with options like shrimp and grits, boudin hash, or a yogurt parfait. Creative open-faced sandwiches appeal to the lunch crowd with choices like curry chicken and black-eyed pea fritter, both prepared on homemade bread. For something on the lighter side, the bakery offers a variety of salads with incredible house-made dressings in Mason jars for easy eating. If you return the jar on your next visit, you’ll receive one dollar off your next salad. In addition, a wide variety of side dishes are available for purchase by the pound, perfect for a picnic.
Conrad has spent her life perfecting the art of baking, and it shows in her attention to detail and expansive selection of meticulously created products. But she also appreciates art, which is evidenced by the various pieces for sale on the walls of the bakery and by the piano situated in the middle of the space waiting for the next neighborhood musician to stop by and strike up a tune. Stop by her whimsical corner of the Bywater for a bite to eat daily from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m.