Kristine de la Cruz - Crème Caramel LA, FrankieLucy Bakeshop
Kristine de la Cruz is the Co-Founder of Crème Caramel LA in Sherman Oaks and Partner of FrankieLucy Bakeshop in Silverlake. Armed with her dream to own an artisanal food business and her family recipe of Filipino leche flan, Kristine began her foray in the food industry in 2010 through pop ups at farmers’ markets throughout Los Angeles and opened her brick and mortar in 2013. Her custard based desserts are now favorites around LA, available in flavors like ube, buko pandan, and vanilla, lady grey, banana nutella. Creating traditional desserts in Filipino flavors was inspired by the balance of her childhood as Filipina American. Kristine’s warmth and kindness for all is so uplifting and complementary to her sweet desserts.
Short bio by Kristine de la Cruz:
Armed with a fantastic custard base and a business and marketing background, Ms. de la Cruz began planning what is now known as Crème Caramel LA in 2010. The company started with Ms. de la Cruz’s family recipe of the Filipino custard, Leche Flan, which is the base and foundation for all things Crème Caramel LA, and a dream of owning an artisanal food business in Los Angeles.
Specializing in custard-based artisanal food using Filipino and traditional ingredients and recipes, Crème Caramel LA is fulfilling a need for an alternative to the standard bakery fare in the Los Angeles area. Namely, cupcakes, pies, and cookies. Crème Caramel LA has built a strong customer base, first through their farmers’ market pop-up booth and second since September 2013, through their Sherman Oaks brick and mortar.
Beyond their retail business and participation in farmers’ markets and special events, Crème Caramel LA has expanded their services to include providing delivery 7 days a week in the Los Angeles and Orange counties through their online ordering system and catering service. Further increasing the reach within the market, Crème Caramel LA has taken advantage of opportunities to sell the custard desserts & more to local restaurants and cafes.
Crème Caramel LA partnered with Found Coffee to open their 2nd location, FrankieLucy Bakeshop. A collaborative effort that features Crème Caramel LA branded products and Demitasse coffee (a local Los Angeles boutique coffee roaster).
Crème Caramel LA is managed by the two founding members, Kristine de la Cruz and Sean Gilleland.
How did you find your career path?
I've always loved the food business. I used to play "Restaurant" and "Bar" (Hah, with an ironing board serving as my bar and giving that Issac from "The Love Boat" service) when I was younger and customer service in the food realm had always interested me.
My first food job was working at a popular bakery in Claremont and I loved it. From that point on throughout my post-graduate career, I had always remembered that time fondly.
My last job I had a great salary, benefits, and traveled while working in the Special Events industry. I had been at this company for 8 years before I decided to pursue my own path in the food industry.
What inspires you?
Hearing and talking about Small Business with other owners. In and out of the food industry.
What do you love about the work you do? How do you get into the creative flow of baking?
I'm pursuing a lifelong dream of mine and while it may seem daunting at times, I like that I can find my own solutions to problems. There isn't one solution. I am only limited by imagination!
What's on your current playlist?
Oh, man. I've been hitting replay on my friend, DJ Evillincoln's 80s mix on Mixcloud. Also, I have been playing the Teena Marie station lately. And Guy's self titled album. It brings me back to high school days!
What inspired you to use Filipino flavors in your desserts?
The base of our dessert is the Filipino Leche Flan (my family's recipe), but we started using Filipino flavors at the 2011 FPAC, one year after we started the business. We met Johneric from The Park's Finest there and he contacted us a few months later and asked if we would make ube and buko pandan flan for his restaurant and the rest is history!
How did you choose to make traditional desserts in Filipino flavors, instead of just Filipino desserts?
It's the happy medium of both cultures that was the base of my childhood. I am forever grateful that my parents met here and especially blessed to have grown up here in the United States. I don't take that for granted especially now when there is so much discord among all people that identify as American.
What is your favorite part about the creative process of creating a dessert?
I'm not technically proficient in baking, but in my head, I see a final product and flavor profile I want to create and have been very blessed to have an amazing production team that is able to execute the new creations lately. I'm in the test kitchen less often now, but in the beginning, it was creating the products that are the most popular today that I hold dear.
How do you feel about the Fil Am chef/food community? It seems like such a good community to be part of and uplifting
The Fil-Am food community is filled with folks with a wealth of knowledge both in and outside the food industry. You have nurses, engineers, attorneys, PR people that have turned to food as a business. Every Fil-Am person I have met in the food industry has been super supportive of each other and most of all, just hard working people that hustle to bring Filipino food flavors to the forefront.
What are your favorite places around the LA?
I love the hiking trails. You can find so many around Los Angeles. Both urban and in the hills. My favorite one is in Pacific Palisades near Will Rogers Park. I haven't been there in ages, but hope to find some time in the Spring to go back out again.
Where are your favorite places to eat?
Oh, man. I like trying new places when I can, but standbys for me are Din Tai Fung, In n Out Burger, Noshi Sushi on Beverly Blvd, and American Ranch Market on Vermont for Turo Turo Filipino eats.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you are excited about?
Yes! One that I will be announcing soon and one that we are working in collaboration.
All photos courtesy of Kristine de la Cruz.