Chef Spotlight – Keijuane Hester, aka “The Cake Man”

 

Durham native Keijuane Hester is a man of many talents – baker, entrepreneur and motivational speaker.  Keijuane serves up not only a plethora of sweet confections, but also an insight into his transitional life story that has lead him down the path to founding Favor Desserts.  Keijuane was a drug dealer after high school and soon found himself serving time in prison.  While there, Keijuane spent time working in the kitchen, despite not really enjoying cooking at first.  He soon developed an appreciation for baking and left prison with just a carrot cake recipe and a boundless future.

Struggling to find steady employment, Keijuane began hustling in a new way.  He was making and baking his way into homes of family and friends with his cakes.  He officially started Favor Desserts in 2004 as he began selling to local hair salons and barbershops, too.  The demand continued to rise and Keijuane soon outgrew his kitchen.  With the number of orders only increasing, Keijuane decided it was time to open up his brick-and-mortar location in Durham off Highway 55.  This location opened in 2012 and officially became Favor Desserts Bakery and Coffee Shop, LLC.

Favor Desserts - The Cake Man

Favor Desserts – The Cake Man

Keijuane is a man of efficiency, swiftly icing a three-layer red velvet cake while talking with me and advising his baking associates.  Affectionately known as “The Cake Man,” Keijuane has over 30 varieties of cake flavors offered in his bake shop.  From the Southern favorite red velvet cupcakes to Favor’s original 5-Flavor pound cake, the options are enough to please any sweet tooth.  As Favor Desserts continues to grow, Keijuane is still on the look-out for ways to grow and expand, both personally and professionally.  Despite a full-time work load as a business owner, Keijuane is studying mass communications at a local university.  He hopes to put this knowledge and education towards furthering the growth of his business to soon include a Charlotte location.  With their confections currently being sold through their shop, catering events and special orders, Keijuane’s gears are always turning to see how he can reach a new client or market.  Ideally, he’d like to be in college campus cafeterias across the Triangle, offering a condensed variety of cupcakes.  One of the options, the red velvet cupcakes, are delicious and would fit right into the pack at a certain campus in Raleigh with its vibrant hue.

Keijuane Hester has made a name for himself in Durham and the Triangle for not only his sweets, but also for his philanthropy in the community.  A humble man with the desire and calling to give back to others, Keijuane hires others who have also previously found themselves on the wrong side of the law.  As this past deters many people from gaining lawful employment, Keijuane understands firsthand the importance for those coming from a similar situation to get a second chance and an opportunity to have a fresh start.

Favor Desserts is always bustling with customers, no matter the time of day I’ve been in.  I was able to try out some of the baked goods from the counter display and despite not having much of a sweet tooth, was pleasantly surprised that the treats were just sweet enough.  The Pineapple Cake with pineapple frosting ($6 per slice) is better than the version I remember growing up on.  The yellow, fluffy cake interior was a pillow between the layers of frosting filled with real pineapple pieces.  The contrasting tart and acidic pineapple leant well to cutting through the rich icing and sweet cake.

Keijuane Hester

Keijuane Hester

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting ($6 per slice) is a Southern staple done well.  From the fluffy moist interior and classic frosting, you can’t go wrong with either the cake slice or cupcake.  Chocolate cupcake and frosting ($3.75 per cupcake) is another classic done right.  No frills, just cakey, chocolately goodness in the form of a cupcake with just enough icing to cupcake ratio.  You know what I’m talking about.  There’s enough icing to get you through the cupcake without a slew of icing leftover.

Keijuane upped his game when he developed the 5-Flavor pound cake ($6 per slice).  I was already content with my order of goodies to take home and share with family, but the name alone had me curious.  Keijuane insisted I try this slice, on him, and see what the hype was all about.  I took one bite and my taste buds were going crazy trying to name all the flavors, with coconut and lemon immediately popping out.  This lusciously made cake was everything a pound cake should be from soft, moist interior to a light golden brown exterior.

Favor Desserts has taken Durham by storm with both its sweet concoctions and community outreach.  Keijuane Hester and his team are happy to host us for a 6 Course All-Dessert Foodie Adventure on June 14th at 7pm.  Seating is super limited, so make sure to get your ticket early so as not to miss out on the sweetness of Favor Desserts!

Favor Desserts - Five Flavor Pound Cake

Favor Desserts – Five Flavor Pound Cake

 

 

NoteFrom time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as one item on this visit was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place.  Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.


Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @ChefTessaRD.

 

 

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