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Meet The Chef Series: Nikki Thompson Frazier, Founder & CEO of Sweet Encounter Bakery Cafe

Chefs in Michigan talk on their philosophies, methods and the passion behind their culinary talents. Each month Michigan Premier Events features some of Michigan's best chefs about their food, philosophy, inspiration and plans for the future. Our featured chef this month is Nikki Thompson Frazier, CEO / Founder of Sweet Encounter Bakery Cafe.


Nikki Thompson Frazier, is a proud mompreneur and the founder of Sweet Encounter. In 2015, Nikki launched Sweet

Encounter as an online and wholesale bakery specializing in top-notch gluten-free desserts. The inspiration behind starting this sweet venture stemmed from her deep-rooted motivation - her daughter's food allergies.


When the pandemic hit in 2020, Nikki decided to pivot and offer virtual and in-person cooking classes for individuals of all ages.


This move allowed her to connect with a broader audience and share her passion for gluten-free cooking with others.


In 2021, Nikki won the Lansing Built to Last Business Competition, allowing her to open her first storefront in

Lansing, MI, on February 16, 2022. Today, Sweet Encounter offers delectable gluten-free treats and eats and hosts cooking classes for all ages, including corporate team-building events.


Tell us a little about yourself

I LOVE spreading love and for me that’s through baking and cooking. As a little girl, my mother said I always loved playing with her pots and pans more than I loved my toys. Prior to opening Sweet Encounter Bakery Café, I was the executive director of a non profit in Huntsville, AL. I also worked in corporate communications, and training and development for Eli Lilly, makers of Prozac. I’ve served on several non profit boards, positions ranging from

Board President to Publicity Chair.  I have a BA in Journalism from Indiana University and MS Communications from Ball State University. I live in Lansing and I’m married to Terrence Frazier. We have have daughters Melia and Madison; and guardianship of their sister Shona, who has Down Syndrome.


When did you decide to become a chef/get into the food industry?

All because of two beautiful girls…Melia and Madison…, I started my gluten free bakery.

Between the two of them they have several food allergies and I wanted to ensure then could enjoy all the delicious foods I grew up loving.


How do you maintain your love of cooking after working long hours?

It can be challenging at times to maintain the LOVE that’s for sure. When I am exhausted and depleted, I always go back to my why. Why did I start this business and why am I doing this. There is a great purpose and when I focus on the purpose, it makes the long hours worth it.


How do you inspire creativity in your kitchen team?

Be a risk tasker! That’s one of our corporate values. I want my team to experiment and try new things. Sometimes our mistakes because our best selling items!


What cuisine do you most enjoy cooking and why?

Oh, goodness. That’s hard. I literally love all types of cuisine. I guess I’m most comfortable with soul food. Its what I grew up eating and it’s the first cuisine I fell in love with and learned how to make.


Tell me about your culinary education and training.

I am self taught but in truth I learned from a long line of family members who are amazing bakers and cooks! My mother, father, grandmothers and aunts, they taught me all I know and I simply honed my skills over the years.


What is your signature dish? What do people love about it?

Signature dishes…I can’t choose one. People LOVE my red velvet, carrot and German chocolate cakes but people also love my sweet potato pie and peach cobbler. I invite you to be the judge. You tell me!


What is your process to create a new signature dish?

Research! I like to thoroughly research new recipes then experiment. I try making the dessert several different ways until I land on something that I love.


Name the three kitchen tools you can’t do without?

Bench Scraper

Mixer

Rolling pin


What are your favorite foods to cook?

I love making Tokyo street food – yaki tori and yaki soda. They are quick, easy and tasty dishes. As for baking, I love homemade biscuits…super simple and you can make them sweet or savory.


How do you describe your overall cooking philosophy?

The more love the better. I believe folks can taste the love so I smile as I cook and bake to the love is felt in every bit.


What chef’s do you follow on social media (or admire their work and career

in general)? Explain why?

Tabitha Brown – I love her spirit and positive attitude. I’ve honestly never made any of her recipes but I do LOVE her energy and her brand. Rachel Ray – she is down home and authentic. Not overly fussy…just good food. Both of these ladies are self-taught like me!


What do you do when you are not working? What are your favorite

hobbies?

I love reading, journaling, coloring and traveling the world. I’ve visited 4 out of 7 continents and my goal is to visit every continent before I die.


Do you have a favorite vacation spot in Pure Michigan?

Yes, my family and I have been renting a small cottage on the lake near Charoloix for the past few years and we LOVE it. It's in the middle of no where but right on a small lake with a beautiful view and a peaceful vibe. Its close to the action without being in the middle of the action. We fish, kayak, swim, relax and just enjoy the rhythm of the water.


What are your plans for the future?

We are working to grow our ecommerce.  We ship cupcakes in jar and looking to grow our sales by 300% in the next year. 




To learn more about Sweet Encounter Bakery and Cafe, visit https://www.sweetencounterbakery.com/



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