Rachel Yang, the star Seattle chef and multi-time James Beard Award nominee, announced this week that she is adding a third business to join Joule and Revel: Paper Cake Shop, which she is launching in collaboration with Gabby Park of Saint Bread.
Cakes are something of a departure for Yang, but during the pandemic lockdown she rediscovered her love of pastries and desserts. She tells Eater Seattle that when her restaurants were closed for dine-in service, she was operating with a “skeleton crew” and making the pastries for both Joule and Revel herself. Sweets and cakes provided “small happy moments that really meant a lot” at a time “when everything was uncertain and depressing and all that stuff.”
As she thought more about a cake shop, she got energized. “The idea of something new was so refreshing,” she says. “It was scary but exciting.” She had no formal pastry background but thinks that she could use cakes and pastries as a canvas for flavors, including savory and spicy notes.
Her partner at Paper Cake, Park, is also Korean American; Yang met her when Park was working at Trove, a Capitol Hill restaurant that Yang ran with her husband, Seif Chirchi, that closed in 2019. Until recently Park was the pastry chef at Saint Bread, the innovative bakery that mashes up elements of Asian and European baking traditions.
Paper Cake is under construction now with a target opening date of late summer. The menu is still being developed but the announcement said that it would “reflect the flavors and inspirations that have shaped [Yang and Park’s] journeys.” Potential cakes include Fancy Chips cake with chocolate sponge, truffled potato chips, and salty malty frosting; Fruit Loops cake with lemon sponge, lemongrass lychee mousse and raspberry buttercream; and Spicy of Life cake with coconut sponge, masala caramel, gingersnap streusel and salty condensed milk frosting.
When it opens, Paper Cake should be a solid addition to what is one of the most enticing dining strips in the city — it will be on Stone Way just a few blocks away from Joule, which is also close to Sea Wolf, Renee Erickson’s the Whale Wins, RoRo BBQ, Kamonegi, and new doughnut shop Doce, among other restaurants.
Yang feels comfortable in the neighborhood. “I feel like this area has been my home ground, my turf for the last 15, 16 years,” she says. She’s certainly staking a claim to it.