If there’s a pandemic silver lining for Justine Redding, it’s that the Lompoc-raised former bakery manager at Dune Coffee is now calling her own shots in charge of a home bakery she calls Chez Justine. Though her menu fluctuates week to week, Redding’s cake slices, cookies, croissants, scones, and more usually sell out in just minutes once they are announced on Sundays at 8 a.m.
“I wasn’t expecting everything to take off as quickly as it did, but I’m so thankful that it did,” said Redding. “I think everyone has been looking for a little spark of joy in their day as of recently.”
Redding’s path to professional cooking started after graduating from high school in Lompoc, when she was briefly enrolled in SBCC’s Culinary Arts Program. But she quit the program after a few semesters because she was already learning so much while on the job at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos.
Redding then managed the bakery for Dune Coffee (formerly known as The French Press) for three years. In May 2019, Redding and her partner moved to Richmond, Virginia, to dive deeper into their respective passions. Then the pandemic hit, so the couple moved back to Lompoc last fall. Upon settling in Santa Barbara, Redding launched Chez Justine last December just in time for the holidays.
Chez Justine’s flavorful array of guilty pleasures includes such playful creations as hazelnut and blood-orange caramel croissants, and cookies that feature two different doughs, like chocolate chip and “funfetti.” She’s also crafting fan favorites from her Dune days, like perfectly rectangular coffee cakes (a hearty loaf of cinnamon goodness) and the sea-salted caramel brownie. My dad couldn’t stop asking about those brownies when I worked as a Dune barista myself years ago, but my personal favorites are her jalapeño cheddar croissants. I didn’t know how much I needed them in my life until the first bite.
Images by Brent O’Donnell
Redding plans to experiment with a “rainbow of flavors” once summer fruit enters the mix, but she’s already relishing the freedom to finally explore her creativity after a decade in the restaurant business. “I have decided that I’m just going to make what I like to eat,” she said with a satisfied smile. “That’s my favorite part of working for myself. It feels very good to have a menu that reflects who I am.”
See chezjustinebakes.com to preorder Chez Justine by 8 a.m. every Sunday to receive the Friday deliveries.