Need a wedding cake, a birthday cake or just a cupcake? Lady Ray’s Culinary Delights has that and more.
Located just west of Target at 833 Harbor Boulevard in Destin, Lady Ray’s offers “sweet and savory,” said Rachel Vondell, also known as Lady Ray.
Lady Ray’s, which opened on Memorial weekend, is a joint venture between Rachel and her older brother, Tim.
“It’s a custom bakery, boutique and patisserie,” Tim said, noting that the shop’s former owner, Bake My Day, was known for his custom cakes.
“We’re trying to develop that,” Tim said.
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Both from upstate New York, Tim moved to the area nine years ago, while his sister moved to Florida, but south to the West Palm Beach area.
“We always wanted to open a restaurant,” Tim said.
And when the Bake My Day store went up for sale, it was the perfect place to set up shop.
And although 80% of their current business is making cakes, “We try to show people that it’s more than just baking,” Tim said, noting that they offer an all-day menu of food. for breakfast and lunch.
The front of the cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, they do custom orders throughout the week, from cakes to sandwich platters.
The lady behind the apron
Rachel, who took on the nickname Ray at an early age, earned her bachelor’s degree from the Culinary Institute of America.
She began her journey with the Ritz Carlton in hotels from New York to New Orleans.
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“It was quite a culture change,” Rachel said of moving to New Orleans.
From there she moved to Palm Beach County in South Florida, where she did mom and pop shops and private venues.
Then she started organizing events and started catering.
“I got to see every aspect of the industry…I absolutely loved it,” Rachel said.
Then in 2020, COVID-19 swept across the country and people no longer had big events.
“It allowed me to return to the kitchen, my first love. So I got back to cooking and baking,” she says.
And when big brother Tim, aged four, found the bakery in Destin, “It was like all the stars aligned and I could move here and be close to my family again. And go back to the world of pastries,” Rachel said.
And at Lady Ray’s, “we do a bit of everything here. I don’t like to do anything in large batches, everything is small batch, handmade and in small quantities, very customer specific. We can customize everything for the client,” she said.
Lady Ray all day menu
From croissants to cupcakes to avocado toast, everything is on the “all day menu”.
“You can have breakfast for lunch. She does everything fresh…everything is handmade,” Tim said.
Lady Ray is known for her Croque Monsier, which is grilled ham and sourdough cheese with melted Swiss cheese on top.
“It’s phenomenal,” Tim said.
“We make it pretty sturdy,” she said, noting that it’s stacked high.
Other items on the all-day menu include avocado toast, an acai bowl, or a Jr. croque, which is a sourdough grilled cheese.
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Lady Ray’s also offers five varieties of cupcakes and three different croissants. The cupcakes include classic vanilla; 24 Carrot, Pineapple and Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting; Chocolate Decadence, which is filled with chocolate mousse topped with chocolate icing; Pistachio, stuffed with raspberry jam and topped with cream cheese icing; and raspberry cheesecake, with raspberry cheesecake filling and cream cheese frosting.
“I don’t like to do something simple…everything has a little play,” Rachel said.
As for the croissants, Lady Ray’s offers a traditional croissant, one with a chocolate filling and chocolate buttercream on top, and then a seasoned croissant with Upstate New York Crazy Ed seasoning.
Plus, they also have baguettes and sourdough.
Lady Ray’s also offers specialty lattes and drinks as well as cookies and coconut macaroons made into a tropical boom, a takeoff on Key Lime pie.
“There was a lot of recipe testing,” she said.
“And there’s stuff here for everyone,” Tim said, noting that they even have Lady Ray clothes, Crazy Ed spices, protein bars, coolers, and even sunscreen.
Lady Ray in motion
At the moment the cafe in front is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But as they build their team, they hope to add more days.
“The Nirvana for us will be having the storefront open five days a week. Once we are fully built, we will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday,” Tim said.
This is the first “bricks and mortar” adventure for the two siblings together.
In 2014, they launched a small ice cream brand and did a small side gig down south, Tim said.
But Lady Ray’s in Destin is their first “showcase”.
“I felt like it was our destiny to do this…it’s just the right size,” Tim said, noting that they hoped to continue and open another store in Miramar Beach or Santa Rosa Beach in the future. ‘coming.
“But it’s not easy, you can’t just throw someone in the kitchen and say ‘go bake,'” Tim said.
In the short time they have been open, Rachel says they have been very busy, noting that they are booked three and four weeks with cake.
However, she says, they can accommodate some last-minute things.
“We don’t want to push anything that’s not at our level,” Tim said.
Lady Ray’s delivers from the Destin Bridge at the Clyde B. Wells 331 Bridge in Walton County.
“We’ll deliver…from kids’ birthdays to wedding cakes and everything in between. We’re ready to do it all,” Tim said.
For custom orders, Lady Ray’s has a form that contributors can fill out online by going to https://lady-rays-culinary-delights.myshopify.com.
“It’s fun and exciting to design,” Rachel said of the many baked goods.
“It’s the baby of it all…it would be great to see it grow,” she said.