Two of the vendors who will be a part of this year’s “A Taste of Soul” celebration are Mr. Gumbo and Gwen’s Cakes and Pies. Mr. Gumbo is Southern style gumbo cuisine. Mr. Gumbo is owned and operated by Ronald Butler. Gwen’s Cakes and Pies is a southern style bakery that specializes in delicious cakes and pies of all kinds.
Mr. Gumbo has been in business since 1995. “Professionally, I was a counselor working at Charles Drew Medical Center. I wanted gumbo one day and nobody had a recipe for it, so I created some gumbo. Once it got created, we were professional in our work place, we would say Mr. Payne or Miss so and so, so I sat at my desk and decided to call it Mr. Gumbo.” Butler described.
This year marks Mr. Gumbo’s 3rd appearance at the Festival. “Originally, I was doing a festival in August three years ago, with 100.3 the beat. The accounting person from the LA Sentinel approached me, and asked me, ‘would you like to be apart of the first annual a taste of soul festival.’ I initially like the other vendors told him no, but after awhile I agree to try this, and the rest is history.
Mr. Gumbo has big plans for the business which includes moving to a permanent location in two years, we plan to move the business to its permanent
Location, which will be in Apple Valley. I chose Apple Valley for two reasons. One, is because I moved out there. Secondly, it is because the Los Angeles area is full of soul food restaurants. I wanted to give other areas a chance to taste real soul food. I believe that it is going to be a very successful business venture.”
Making their first appearance at the “A Taste of Soul” festival is Gwen’s Cakes and Pies.
Gwen’s Cakes and Pies that is located on 820 N. La Brea next to a party store. GC&P is owned and operated by Gwen Vance.
Like Mr. Gumbo, Gwen started out as a counselor in the mental health field, but she found that baking was her true calling. “I initially, counseled people, but as time went on it became stressful, it’s not easy listening to people’s problems for a living. Seven years ago, I decided to turn my passion for baking into this business. I have been baking since I was a little girl and I knew I could do it well. It wasn’t easy at first, but it is worth it.”
Gwen began to scout locations and found that her current location was the best” We are located near a party store and I found that being next to it is a great advantage for my business. People can get their party supplies from the store next door and get their baking need met at my business. Therefore, it is a great advantage to both of our businesses.
Also, like Mr. Gumbo. Gwen was approached to join the original “A Taste of Soul” festival but she did not join. “I wasn’t sure at the time that it would be worth it, but I can say that I was wrong. I can’t wait to interact with various people from all over Los Angeles. I know that it will be rewarding for me.”
Gwen’s booth will also feature a candy maker that will make chocolate and caramel candies for all. “It will be treat for all who come to my booth. If you all come to this booth you all will get the best pies and cakes this side of heaven.”
With Mr. Gumbo and Gwen’s Cakes and Pies at the third annual “A Taste of Soul” festival on October 18, you are in for a real southern style treat.