Passion fruit cheesecake, matcha red bean and lavender sesame caramel.
Audabon Bakeshop co-owner and baker Audrey Chang is bringing eccentric flavors alive as French macarons. In addition to her selection of macarons, Chang offers puddings such as black sesame, salty caramel and buttermilk panna cotta. The salty caramel pudding is her signature, and it helped to propel her from a portable stand in Suburban Station to her current storefront, which opened last Wednesday.
After a member of Yelp’s Elite Squad — a group of particularly active reviewers — raved about the pudding on Yelp’s website, demand for Audabon treats escalated and Chang could not keep up. People waited in lines before her stand was open for the day and everything would sell out within three hours.
“At some point I reached my maximum capacity. I could only fit so much in the fridge,” Chang said. She moved into wholesale, supplying Sweet Ending, Chapter House, and the cafes in Rodin College House and Williams Hall before finally finding a place of her own.
Audabon Bakeshop now occupies a small space in Chinatown, and it already has a personality. “Dance a bit and sing a bit to yourself. We turn the music up just a little bit too loud,” Chang tells employees. “[It] may be harder to hear customers, but it makes the place feel more like a party.”
Chang majored in economics at Penn and graduated in 2010. When she graduated, she landed a job in private equity. “I was stressed out all the time, and my way of coping with that stress was to bake,” Chang said. She baked for friends and family who insisted that she could sell the desserts. In May 2012, she quit her corporate job and focused full time on baking.
Chang recalled her parents being skeptical of her decision; they asked why she had gone to college when she just wanted to bake. “It’s not just that,” Chang told them.
Chang attributed her business development skills — which helped her grow Audabon — to her time in private equity, and says her Penn education led her into that field. Now with Audabon Bakeshop, Chang says she enjoys what she does, is good at it — and has customers who come back again and again.
“It is the best scenario for me to make money,” Chang said.
Baking is not Chang’s only passion, but it is an outlet for her creativity to thrive. Chang designed her own logo, which is pressed onto the front glass of the new storefront, stamped on boxes and iron-pressed onto her own shirts.
Audabon Bakeshop is one of Philly’s first Asian American bakery concepts, pulsing with 90s music and words of wisdom scrawled on its chalkboard walls. The bakery’s location at the edge of Chinatown and near Reading Terminal Market attracts visitors into Chinatown while still resonating with an Asian population that is familiar with the Asian-inspired flavors, Chang said.
Chang moved among Taiwan, Japan and Thailand until she was five , and many of her macaron flavors are reminiscent of desserts from her childhood.
What’s Chang’s favorite flavor? She is “equally enthusiastic” about each flavor. “They’re all my babies,” she said. For the upcoming summer season, Chang does recommend the buttermilk panna cotta pudding. It is “very subtle” and requires a “discerning palate.”
It is something to look for when as the weather gets warmer, Chang said.