When you start doing what you love, it can take you to some unexpected places of joy, achievement and good fortune. It happened that way for one of America’s most popular food bloggers.
“I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve been able to build a business based on doing what I love and what I’m naturally gifted at doing, and building a very successful business at that,” says Jocelyn Delk Adams, founder of Grandbaby Cakes.
Family-Inspired Good Fortune
Before she launched her highly successful blog in 2012, Adams had no plans to become a celebrity food influencer, cookbook author and media personality. The stories she told about the inspiration behind her modern remix of her family’s food traditions charmed Grandbaby Cakes’ followers and made her shine. The public and media critics fell in love with her recipes for baked goods and savory dishes.
“I feel like that was the light bulb moment when I started my blog. I didn’t necessarily want it to feel old-fashioned. I wanted it to feel like it was me honoring my past but in a more fresh and modern way,” Adams comments.
Her grandmother, Maggie Small, played an integral role in the writer’s past and passion for cooking. “I loved being in the kitchen with her. I felt like it was where I was meant to be. I didn’t know it at the time, but it really felt like home,” says the celebrity blogger.
The time she spent in that Winona, Mississippi, kitchen with “Big Mama” still influences the entrepreneur’s devotion to fostering loving memories of food and family. “I think it was just how she looked and her commitment to creating recipes that made her family happy and also made her happy during the entire process,” explains the Grandbaby Cakes founder.
“I gathered so much from watching the joy she received from that process, and being in the kitchen with her made me so excited to learn from her.”
Adams also learned about the significance of southern roots cooking and generational recipes from her mother and aunts. Her blog and first cookbook, “Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories,” weaves their southern roots dishes with modern twists the home cook created in her kitchen.
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“I feel like all of these different influences have shaped what I’ve been able to do,” says Adams. “Just being true to that and just being true to what makes me excited about food and what motivates me in this space has really worked out for me.”
It has worked so well that Grandbaby Cakes now generates seven figures a year. Adams sells her baked goods online and through a partnership with Williams Sonoma. The good fortune she is experiencing from passing on her joy of cooking is growing with the release of a second critically-acclaimed cookbook.
Making the Most of Moments
The March release of “Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life’s Big and Small Moments” generated immediate buzz and stellar reviews. The new cookbook Adams wrote with Olga Massov, shares 80-plus savory and sweet recipes combined with inspirations and insights from the food blogger’s personal journey as a wife, mother and business owner.
“I’ve grown a lot, and I’ve changed and evolved. Because of that, it can sometimes be difficult for people to get on board with something new,” comments the cookbook author.
Fans of Grandbaby Cakes are responding with enthusiasm. “I love watching people make recipes from the book. They’ve sent so many photos,” Adams remarks. “There are so many incredible reviews everywhere. The book is very new, so it’s exciting to see how many people gravitate towards it, see themselves in the book and love it.”
Hollywood film star Jennifer Garner is among the celebrities and food critics praising “Everyday Grand” in reviews. “Jocelyn’s infectious joy and love for food and family leap from the pages to your table. Your family will be begging for seconds in no time,” says Garner.
Adams formulated most of the cookbook’s recipes in her kitchen. “I like making recipes that contain explosive flavor, energy, fun and excitement. I like to have people say, ‘Wow. That’s full of so much flavor!’”
The Bellini pound cake and Greek potato wedges are among the hits with Everyday Grand’s readers. Her brother is a vegan, so Adams is pleased with the popularity of the meatless recipes. “I find that to be encouraging and fun too, seeing people finding their way to plant-based recipes, seeing the flavor and enjoying that.”
“Everyday Grand” also honors the family cooks and bakers who inspired the food blogger’s adaptations. Big Mama’s peach cobbler and cornmeal butter biscuits are represented, and so is Aunt Rose’s ultimate mac and cheese.
But the author’s greatest tributes to her family and friends are in the cookbook’s overall theme. “The book is about celebrations, not just the celebrations we think about every day. It’s about finding even the smallest moments in life to celebrate,” Adams confirms. “At the beginning of the book, I talk about how my grandmother celebrated her birthday twice. The lesson in that is we celebrate more, not less.”
The way “Everyday Grand” conveys that message is uplifting. Adams offers positive daily affirmations, essential tools for life and the kitchen, and a list of celebration moments. The moments come with recipe suggestions for acknowledging a good hair day, self-care day, falling in love and more grand moments of daily life.
She emphasizes her point in the cookbook’s introduction. “Take stock in your everyday accomplishments. They matter. You matter. No thing, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, isn’t worth celebrating.”
Growing Grandbaby Cakes Brand
Becoming one of the first Black food bloggers to gain national fame gives Adams many reasons to rejoice. In 2012, the mass communications major was working behind the cameras as a production assistant on television shows and a casting assistant for movies in Chicago.
After Adams discovered she had her family’s “baking genes,” her Grandbaby Cakes blog launched her status as a media personality. She found being in front of a television camera came naturally to her. “It feels so very intimate for me. It should be kind of nerve-wracking, but it’s not. I’m grateful I’ve been given the opportunity.”
Her Grandbaby Cakes brand grew with her appearances on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and the Food Network. Adams has been featured in national publications, including Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Oprah Magazine. “I love that I am able to reach so many people, whether it’s millions on a national TV show or through a publication,” says the home cook.
Everyday Grand’s author now lives in Prosper, Texas. Her debut “Grandbaby Cakes” cookbook won the Gourmand World Award for Best Blogger Cookbook USA in 2016. Adams was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Instructional Work the same year.
She hopes the recognition for her work will one day make her brand familiar to grocery shoppers. “That would be the goal – to see Grandbaby Cakes in grocery stores across the country.”
Life Lessons Learned
The beloved food influencer once pursued her goals for Grandbaby Cakes around the clock. Adams did everything herself and took no breaks. The COVID pandemic changed her outlook on the use of her time. “If we really think about it, the pandemic was such a huge adjustment for all of us. It made us think so much about how we live our lives and what we prioritize,” she says.
Adams started work on “Everyday Grand” during the pandemic. She spent her days in isolation with her husband, her daughter, Harmony, and her parents. That gave the acclaimed writer ideas for the cookbook’s content. “I wanted to create a book that reflected the journey that I was on during that time. That journey was back to finding joy in all the moments I’m privileged to live. And prioritizing family more, and not always being the workaholic I had become at the time,” she recalls.
The Grandbaby Cakes founder no longer works alone. She has a team of photographers, food stylists and other professionals helping her. Adams believes the pandemic taught her to balance her time better. “I love my work. I’m always so excited about what I get to do, but I do need the breaks too. I’m trying to figure out a way to trust the process, go on the journey and just enjoy it.”
Looking back, Adams is still amazed at how her grandmother managed to work full-time, cook and bake every day, and keep her family and neighbors supplied with cakes. If there are moments when she feels overwhelmed by her business and goals, the award-winning author renews her inspiration by remembering when Big Mama called her grandbaby’s first cookbook “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
So, what means the most to Adams when she considers all her success? The community and relationships she built by sharing her dream and vision for Grandbaby Cakes. “It was more of a connection to the past, honoring my grandmother and the women in my life who made food such an integral part of who I am, and wanting to pass that forward,” says the founder.
“Seeing the recipes I’ve put out in the world take shape and create this new space has made a difference for me.”
Check out Jocelyn Delk Adams’ blog and recipes on grandbaby-cakes.com. You can order cakes from the website or from Williams and Sonoma. Connect with the Everyday Grand author on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook.