After winning hearts as a Top Chef: Just Desserts contestant and taste buds as the beneficiary of a Southern Living nod to the South’s best bakeries, Houston cult confectioner Rebecca Masson is taking on a new challenge with the opening of her first storefront later this month. The prime, pedestrian-oriented site in bustling Post Midtown Square is slated for a May 28 debut and is an extension of the “Sugar Fairy’s” wildly popular Fluff Bake Bar brand that launched in 2011 as a consultancy, online business and supplier to top restaurants, specialty markets and coffee shops around the city.
A first of its kind concept in Houston, the venue, funded in part through key seed capital from a Kickstarter campaign, will act as a bakery by day and dessert bar by night, offering plated flights with beer and wine pairings. Masson is also planning for a variety of pop-up experiences, beginning with a bake sale featuring Philip Speer on June 13.
"To finally open a storefront for Fluff Bake Bar is the realization of a childhood dream," said Masson. "With the help of the local community, we successfully raised over $53,000 through Kickstarter, giving me the opportunity to grow and enhance Fluff with a casually cool space, state-of-the-art equipment and a menu of both savory and sweet desserts that draw from classical French and homespun techniques. I’m looking forward to making my supporters proud.”
The colorful and outspoken Wyoming native, who tirelessly gives of her time to a variety of non-profits, has created a unique niche in the city, creating playful, yet technically complex, treats that have earned Masson respect and admiration from her peers. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she began her career with a coveted internship at the landmark Le Bristol hotel under Eric Frechon. After six years working in New York with some of Manhattan’s most celebrated chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Gary Robins and Jimmy Bradley, Masson arrived in Houston at the invitation of Ryan Pera with whom she continues to collaborate.
Located at 314 Gray, just steps away from the newly renovated Midtown Park and Bagby, greenroad project, Fluff Bake Bar is in the heart of an area that is in the midst of a culinary renaissance. Recent, high-profile openings range from OPORTO Fooding House & Wine and Weights + Measures to Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, while anticipation builds for newcomers, including Tarakaan and The Azuma Group’s Izakaya, which will be a next door neighbor.
The 1,200-square-foot space is truly a reflection of Masson’s personality. Her playful side is evident in the eclectic decorative elements selected with her mother and business partner, Dodie Wilson. Pink butcher paper will adorn select walls which will display Fluff’s daily specials, while the back wall will showcase a series of black and white portraits shot by friend Ralph Smith that feature a collection of cherished, lost and found baking utensils, including one that stages baking utensils as a city skyline. The lightheartedness continues even into the restrooms, where Masson contracted local graffiti artist, Wiley Robertson to design colorful Willy Wonka-themed walls. Near the kitchen is where Masson’s serious side takes over with a long industrial counter, outfitted with a custom glass pastry encasement and a view into the workspace, which will also be visible through two picture windows on Gray Street. Seating for 24 includes tables both in front and in the back, where an expansive courtyard, shared by several businesses, provides a lively, but somewhat hidden, place to linger.
The menu focuses on a rotating list of 15 seasonal tarts, pastries, pies and cookies that are available each day until they sell out. Items include Fluffernutters, French Macarons, Black and Whites, Hobnobs, Moonpies and more. Masson’s Cup|Cakes give the traditional a twist with a cake inside a cup. For this new offering, she has revisited some of her favorite combinations for inspiration, including Veruca Salt – a heavenly mix of devil’s-food cake, salted caramel butter cream and pretzel crunch – Carrot Cake with half-baked cheesecake, cookie butter buttercream, hazelnut crunch and candied carrots plus the Meyer Lemon Tart. The coffee program will round off the experience with local favorite Katz’s Coffee.
In the evening, a menu of a la carte desserts are showcased alongside a four-course menu that incorporates three desserts and a mignardise. Wine pairings are available for an additional price, and have been hand-selected by local sommelier Anthony Gianola. A la carte items include the Blackberry Bakewell Tart with lemon verbena ice cream; a Bahibe Milk Chocolate Cremeux with passion-fruit curd, hazelnut compressed meringue and white fungus; and a Chocolate Stout Syllabub with salted caramel, whipped crème fraiche and Ritz Crackers crunch. Fluff Bake Bar is located at 314 Gray. Hours of operation are Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 am until 10 pm and Thursday through Saturday from 9 am until midnight. For information and special orders, call 713.522.1900 or log onto www.fluffbakebar.com.