Baltimore chef builds business on culinary treats and love
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia | 9/25/2020, 6 a.m.
Amanda Mack wouldn’t let the coronavirus pandemic stop her from realizing her dreams.In June and at the pandemic’s height, Mack opened Crust by Mack inside the renovated and historic Whitehall Market in Baltimore. “Opening during a global pandemic was scary.
Not only did I have to take into consideration the health of my customers, but I have three children at home who I had to keep safe,” Mack declared. “I also had to readjust my menu, business plan, and hours of operation and prayed that I would make enough to support my family during a time when everything in the world is at a standstill.”
The accomplished chef said her culinary business represents a safe place where all are welcome, and her tasty treats are made with love.She said her mission is to serve customers with respect and kindness, and in a way that uplifts and strengthens the community.
“Each time guests visit Crust, I want them to feel welcome, safe, and valued. I want them to leave feeling warm inside and excited to return soon,” Mack exclaimed.
She eagerly revealed where she developed a love for all things culinary. “My love for baking developed as a child watching my grandmother bake in her tiny apartment,” Mack reminisced. “Sometimes, she’d wake me up at 5 a.m. to bake biscuits for breakfast before we’d head off to school. As I got older, I realized that baking was very therapeutic. It became the peace I needed during some of the most challenging times of my life.”
Her friends and those who patronize the Black-owned Crust by Mack said the chef’s creations are known for bringing people together and keeping them connected through a series of curated events and brand collaborations with others in the culinary community.
Mack grew up in West Baltimore and ultimately graduated from Coppin State University. She added that her love for her community transcends beyond the table. Mack has spent the past decade as a vehicle for change in food justice and family nutrition in Baltimore food desserts.
Her work with The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health supports the “B’More Healthy Kids Initiative“ by providing families with healthy alternatives to fast food, teaching families to cook healthy and affordably.
In 2014, Mack authored the children’s book, “Greens Don’t Grow in Cans,” which teaches the origin and nutritional value of fresh fruits and vegetables, while also encouraging family participation in meal preparation.
Twice awarded by the mayor for her continuous contributions to Baltimore, Mack also remains actively involved in community organizations that support youth enrichment and has helped raise over $20,000 for Baltimore programs.
All of what she said is inspired by her love of baking and her family. “The women in my family are my constant inspirations. They are strong, fearless Black women, and every day they remind me of my values and my worth,” Mack stated.
“My mom especially, is my greatest inspiration. I watched her overcome so many obstacles as a child and not once give up! She never made excuses or passed blame; she just did what she had to do.
“Most recently, I stood by her side as she battled breast cancer. There were times I thought she wasn’t going to make it, and I could not even imagine how my life would have been if she wasn’t here.
“It is such an honor standing alongside her in my own bakery week after week. Watching her cook for our guests and allowing them to share the best parts of herself has been my greatest joy since opening Crust.” Because access bridges the equity gap, Mack said she and her family understand that every business may not be created equally.
“From conception, we built our bakery as a resource to our community,” she exclaimed. “We will open our doors to entrepreneurs and small businesses, those of color, to participate in programming that creates access to tools and information needed to create an equitable and sustainable business from the inside out.”