Sweet as Pie: Meet Linda Hundt of Downtown Market Grand Rapids’ Sweetie-Licious Bakery

Guest Blogger Molly Clauhs grew up in Pennsylvania, studied Hotel Administration at Cornell University in Upstate New York, and then moved to Michigan to plant some roots, open a food truck, and get involved in the burgeoning food movement. She currently coordinates the leasing process for the Downtown Market Grand Rapids, where she works with small food businesses affording her an inside look at the foodie Mecca, opening Fall 2013.

The Downtown Market will feature an outdoor farmers market, teaching kitchens, rooftop greenhouses, banquet and meeting space, full-service restaurants, office space, and a market hall featuring 24 permanent, year round food businesses to offer a “main street shopping experience.”  Here, Molly will introduce you to one of the unique businesses that will be making the Downtown Market home.

A Sweetie-Licious Bakery pie. Photo courtesy of David Tilley, Downtown Market GR.

I’m frequently asked, “Where’d you learn to cook?” I’m tempted to say I spent a year in a tiny Parisian kitchen working through a stack of French cookbooks or was the star student at a prestigious culinary school or that I toiled away in a restaurant kitchen getting barked at and chopping onions. Nope. I grew up with a mother who loved to cook and a grandmother who lived next door and was always in the kitchen, enjoying herself. The love of cooking and eating became part of me.

This warm spring weather, hatching into summer, sends my mind back to the farm where I spent my first eighteen years. Around this time of year, I started checking my grandmother’s cherry tree. The tree was conveniently located off a small staircase that led to their front door, so if I climbed up the side railings I could lean over and examine the flowers, buds, unripe fruit, and eventually, the bright red sour cherries.

As soon as they were ripe, we’d begin picking them by the basket full. I’d still be balanced precariously over the railing with one hand holding on and one hand picking cherries. My grandmother and I would run the cherries through an old-fashioned hand-cranked pitter in the sunroom. Now for the best part, we’d bake cherry pies, and of course freeze the extra fruit to use throughout the year.

Let me introduce you to Linda Hundt, proprietor of Sweetie-Licious Bakery, one of the Downtown Market’s newest tenants. She built a business on the foundation of stories like mine: memories that center on food, family, and love.

Linda Hundt, owner of Sweetie-Licious bakery, gathered up family recipes, nostalgia, and a talent for baking gained through coming of age in a family of home cooks preparing meals from scratch daily as an expression of love and art.

Linda Hundt at Sweetie-Licious Bakery. Photo courtesy of David Tilley, Downtown Market GR.

She took all that goodness and created a bakery that is so cute you want to pinch its cheeks, if only that was possible. The bakery is located in DeWitt, Michigan, about fifteen miles outside of Lansing. Good news, Grand Rapids: Linda and her team are opening their second location at the Downtown Market.

I’m temped to write on and on about Linda’s positive energy and sunny disposition, but you’ve seen her photo and hopefully it conveys her spirit. From my experience, Linda is usually wearing an adorable dress, carrying a pie, and smiling.

However, it wasn’t always that way. Linda graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in elementary education. She considered culinary school but as was the norm a few decades ago, her mother steered her towards a career that would be conducive to raising a family.

Several years later, her husband’s business went under, teaching jobs weren’t available, and Linda began a career in politics that she maintained for fifteen years. Linda was depressed and uninspired and felt she was not living a purposeful life. “It got to the point with my depression that I had to sink or swim and I wasn’t going to sink.”

In 2002 Linda began baking pies fulltime and soon thereafter opened her bakery that she always refers to as “the cutest little pie shop in the world.” She realized as a child that food and love are linked and she and her staff, clad in pink aprons and big smiles, “love everyone who walks through the door.”

Sweetie-Licious opening at the Downtown Market means we’ll finally have a destination for pie in Grand Rapids. I don’t still live next door to my grandmother and her cherry tree, but a good old fashioned slice of cherry pie will remind me of my roots in a form of edible nostalgia.

We’re lucky to have Sweetie-Licious opening in Grand Rapids, led by an entrepreneur seeking a purposeful life and to spread love “one pie at a time.”  In the meantime, while the cherries are ripening and we’re anticipating the Downtown Market opening later this summer, give Linda’s “Cherry Cherry Crisp” recipe a try.

Sweetie-Licious Cherry Cherry Crisp recipe. Click to enlarge.

Sweetie-Licious Cherry Cherry Crisp recipe. Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Guest Blogger Molly Clauhs coordinates the leasing process for the
Downtown Market Grand Rapids
, where she works with small food businesses affording her an inside look at the foodie Mecca, opening Fall 2013.

Pie, Parades and More at the 2013 National Cherry Festival in Traverse City

The National Cherry Festival brings more than 500,000 people to Traverse City, Michigan each year. This year the celebration returns from June 29 – July 6 with music, parades, entertainment and – of course – cherries galore! Today, Susan Wilcox Olson, media and marketing manager for the festival, fills us in on what to expect at the 2013 event.

The Grand Traverse region, known for its world-record tart cherry harvest, bursts with visitors eager to savor the flavor of cherries tucked into everything imaginable. Each day festival goers find cherry delights along with parades, family and kids events and entertainment. In all, there are more than 130 events along the shores of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay.  In fact, the National Cherry Festival was just featured in Wall Street Journal Weekend – naming it one of just a dozen Festivals not to be missed this season!  And travel to the Cherry Capital of the World is easy with direct flights to the Cherry Capitol Airport (TVC) from NYC, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Minneapolis.  There’s convenient one stop service from every corner of the country, Europe and Asia!

The eight-day event will kick off on Saturday, June 29th at 9 a.m. with a Very Cherry Pancake Breakfast – one of the world’s largest displays of cherries, all bay side!  Then Festival goers will look to the skies and witness one of the nation’s most spectacular Air Shows…over water!  Choreographed perfectly, three dynamic teams will perform maneuvers wowing Festival goers of all ages!  There’s a new twist to the Festival Air Show…A NIGHT FLIGHT!  On Saturday evening at dusk, you won’t want to miss the first ever Night Air Show in Pure Michigan!  Pyrotechnics and lights will fill the skies!

Performing on the Bay Side Music Stage Opening Night is the legendary rock band STYX!  In the heart of downtown Traverse City, overlooking the shores of the Bay it’s a not be missed night of fun!  In fact, the Bay Side Music Stage will be rockin’ all eight days with performances by Country music star, Montgomery Gentry, Sunday, June 30th; Foreigner on Monday, July 1st; Blues legend Duke Tumatoe & The Power Trio on Tuesday, July 2; Country Music returns on Wednesday, July 3rd with Aaron Tippin and Michigan native Jana Kramer.  Fourth of July will pay tribute to the legendary Central Park 4th of July performance by Simon and Garfunkel – a Tribute Band Old Friends will perform just before Fireworks over West Grand Traverse Bay.  Friday night Rock returns with Edgar Winter and Rusted Root.  While closing night will feature The Tribute – 1964, paying tribute to the Beatles.

There’s something for just about everyone!  From dozens of free children’s events, cherry pie eating, pet shows, bicycle and big wheel races to name just a few, to competitive sporting events like the Million Dollar Hole-in-One contest all week to one of America’s most beautiful 15K Running Races.  In-fact on closing day Saturday, July 6th the race finishes its last leg along the parade route of the DTE Energy Cherry Royale Parade, with tens of thousands spectators!

Beyond the 130 events, visitors will find cherries in just about everything at the Festival’s Farm Market all week long.  From the Festival’s Signature Cherry Pie – Grand Traverse Pie Company’s Cherry Crumb Pie and Brownwood Farms’ cherry topped sundaes to gourmet products like cherry salsa, cherry mustard, cherry butter, and cherry BBQ sauce – it’s all here!

Don’t miss the world’s largest cherry extravaganza!  Visit www.cherryfestival.org or check out the interview below for details!

Susan Wilcox Olson is Media and Marketing Manager for the National Cherry Festival.  For 26 years Susan has been serving up Michigan lifestyle stories to readers, listeners, and viewers across the country and internationally.  From the National Cherry Festival, Cherry Capital Airport, Grand Traverse Pie Company, and other Pure Michigan destinations like the golf centric Gaylord and Treetops Resort, Susan is proud to call Pure Michigan her home. She may be reached by email at susan@cherryfestival.org.

Will you be at the Cherry Festival in Traverse City? Share with us below, and learn more at michigan.org.