A sweet tooth has been pastry chef Courtney Bonning’s lucky charm. Bonning opened Bonbon Pastry & Café in Ohio City the year cupcakes put her on the culinary map.
Bonning battered the competition on an episode of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in 2011. Then, as a cherry on top, she won runner-up status a year later on the network’s Sweet Genius show.
Her passion for all things sweet stretches back to childhood and creating Easter chocolates with her mom. A Northeast Ohio (Medina) native, Bonning stayed in the kitchen after earning a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Hospitality Management. “I've always worked in restaurants and kind of had a quarter life crisis when I wasn't completely sure where I wanted to go with my career in the industry,” Bonning said.
So, at 25, she packed up and moved to California where she fell in love--with baking. Bonning earned a degree in Baking and Pastry from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (“Best decision I ever made!”), and went on to work as a pastry chef for Press Restaurant in Napa Valley and James Beard-award winning chef Tom Douglas in Seattle.
Still in her 20s, she returned to Cleveland to lead the pastry team at The Ritz-Carlton and then open her own business, a small wholesale bakery that morphed into Bonbon.
These days, she stocks her pastry case with all-natural, artistically prepared goodies at Bonbon, which also serves brunch and lunch. In a savory mood? Go for the menu items served with homemade English muffins, biscuits and focaccia. This summer, Bonning plans to add donuts, bagels and bonbons to her line up.
What about those baseball-themed cupcakes that won the day on Cupcake Wars, you ask? Bonning makes those treats—including chocolate Porter beer cupcakes with toasted meringue, caramel corn, and chocolate bats and banana split cupcakes with cinnamon banana cake, vanilla buttercream, dark chocolate ganache, macerated strawberries, and roasted star anise pineapple—available for pre-order every year during the week of the Cleveland Indians’ opening day.