Ishnoelle Chin Richardson was working at the hip West Hollywood spot Soho House when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Finding himself at a crossroads in his career, the Filipino-born pastry chef kneaded matters into his own hands and launched Baking with Ish in 2020, offering homemade pies and pastries that take the nostalgic flavors of his childhood, but with a modern twist.
Richardson, who simply goes by “Ish,” was born in a small southern province in the Philippines. His mother first moved to the States when he was six. It was during this time when the future entrepreneur learned how to cook by watching two women who helped to raise him – his aunt and grandmother. Fully immersed in the culinary culture of the region at a young age, Richardson grew up with an appreciation for unique flavor profiles, local ingredients and a passion for cooking.
“Being raised Muslim comes with different types of food and beliefs,” he said. “I remember this one type of dish called ‘Patil,’ made with ground chicken braised in soy sauce, ginger, lots of garlic and green onions. I was not into baking until much later, but I loved to watch my aunt bake.”
Richardson eventually moved to the U.S. when he was 17 and worked in post-production. After several years in the industry, while facing personal and professional struggles, he set his sights on his next career move. Driven by memories of cooking with his family in the Philippines, Richardson enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at Le Cordon Bleu.
“It’s funny how it worked out because when I was at the program, I only had a few weeks of pastry class and I also kind of hated it at the time,” Richardson said. “When I started working at my first job (as a pastry cook for Spanish restaurant Playa), I learned how to bake bread, make ice cream and how to temper chocolate. That’s when I discovered that I had a natural talent for baking and that I loved it.”
He further honed his culinary skills with stints at various Los Angeles eateries (where he lives now), including Esters Wine Shop & Bar in Santa Monica as a sous chef. In 2017, Richardson started working at Soho House West Hollywood as a dinner pastry cook. His undeniable talent and hard work eventually landed him an assistant executive pastry chef position at the exclusive club. Then COVID-19 happened.
“That was the end of the road for me,” he said. During the early days of quarantine, Richardson was at home watching his favorite singer Taylor Swift’s concert special on TV. Taking cues from another influential woman in his life, the self-confessed “Swiftie” turned his wildest dreams into reality.
“I thought that I needed to follow my dreams, just like her,” he said. “The following day, I started the Baking with Ish Instagram and it went from there.” Richardson began posting photos of his baked creations, including his Ube Cheese Pandesal, a traditional Filipino bread roll flavored with the sweet, earthy taste of the purple yam and oozing with the salty goodness of melted cheese. Since then, Baking with Ish has expanded to include Ube Cheese Pie, Ube Crème Brulee Donuts, Pinipig Chocolate Chip Cookies, and seasonal pies on the menu.
To get the authentic flavors of his pies and pastries, Richardson shops at local markets and the Filipino grocery store Seafood City. He sources his flour from the Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project, a Southern California organization that aims to produce and supply heritage grains in a cost-effective way.
“I love doing something with my Filipino background,” he said of his home-based business. “I always come up with something people are familiar with, but I try to execute them differently. Like in the Filipino community, they are familiar with Cassava cake, but I turned it into a pie.”
Richardson’s work has even caught attention outside of his local community. His cakes were featured in a fashion spread for Vogue Italia, and Baking with Ish was voted one of Thrillist’s best pie shops in the city two years in a row. Baking with Ish ships now nationwide and currently has a pop-up shop at Blossom Market Hall in San Gabriel, CA.
“I know it might sound bad, but the pandemic opened doors for me,” Richardson said. “I remind myself that’s the reason why I started believing in myself and making things that I love.”
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