Gergana Karabelov, 44, of Santa Rosa, is a busy woman.
She owns and runs Patisserie Angelica, an award-winning, French-style bakery cafe in downtown Sebastopol, while also raising two children and running Mommy’s Yummys, LLC, a pop-up Mediterranean food stand, for half the year at local seasonal markets. It’s a demanding schedule, but Karabelov is up for the task. In spite of the challenges, she holds her bakery cafe to the highest standards, and exceeds them.
For anyone not in the know, Patisserie Angelica is renowned for its exquisite wedding cakes, pastries and high teas. Founded by sisters Condra Easley and Deborah Morris, the bakery’s sole owner became Karabelov in 2019, shortly after their retirement. As the new owner, she immediately extended operating hours and made high tea available year-round.
Per the company website, Patisserie Angelica’s cakes and pastries are baked with all-natural ingredients, using pure butter, local dairy, organic eggs and cane sugar. Karabelov and her crew also use healthy, plant-based colors and “work seasonally with local farmers, jarring, preserving and freezing during peak season so they can bake with top-notch local foods all year round.”
In addition, almost all of their products—including baked goods, cakes, fillings, buttercream, curds, preserves, jams and jellies, even the mocha mix they put in their coffee—are made in-house. Of equal importance, they use only the finest ingredients, emphasizing, “All the time, no excuses and no compromises!”
Their cakes have been featured in The Bride & Bloom Magazine, Brides, Town & Country, TeaTime and Santa Rosa Magazine, as well as the Cooking Channel’s Food Crafters.
A cook by inclination, Karabelov landed in Sonoma County as an exchange student from Bulgaria in 2002. Her husband followed a year later, and soon thereafter her son and daughter were born. She worked at Redwood Hill Farm for many years and started Mommy’s Yummys in 2010. Later, she perfected her baking skills while attending the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) culinary arts program. She initially entered into ownership of the bakery with friend and longtime coworker Jennifer Bice, a well-known cheesemaker and goat breeder, in 2018. When Bice soon decided to retire, Karabelov became sole owner.
She employs two full-time workers. Maggie “Queen of Macaroons” Cortez, 28, of Santa Rosa, is head baker, with six years experience at Patisserie Angelica and a degree from SRJC’s culinary arts baking pastry program. Her younger sister, Isela Cortez, 23, of Santa Rosa, is chief cake decorator.
In addition, Karabelov’s daughter, Dohna, and her son, Pavel, help with both the bakery and Mommy’s Yummys, respectively. And two additional part-time employees, both named Sharon, provide excellent customer service at the counter.
“Business has been great, except for the multiple challenges we’ve had to face,” Karabelov says. The challenges include the flood in The Barlow, which did not reach the bakery but significantly reduced foot traffic nonetheless. In addition, two major forest fires closed the town of Sebastopol for a week each, and without power, all the food at the bakery went bad.
During COVID, wedding cake sales diminished as some couples took their vows over Zoom with symbolic six-inch cakes, while others were forced to postpone their weddings and cake orders, sometimes more than once. Karabelov closed the company doors and furloughed the employees, baking cookies, scones and croissants by herself for take-out for three months. Selling baked goods at local farmers’ markets also helped keep the business afloat.
Now business has rebounded, though the market has changed. “We are seeing different needs this year,” Karabelov says. Expensive wedding venues are leaving couples with less money for the cakes, “so people order small cutting cakes, just for the picture and the tradition, but not to serve their guests. The cake is the last item to fit in the budget.”
“Our regular customers usually enjoy a fresh-baked scone and an espresso, and we see our signature desserts—Gateaux Parisian, almond macaron cake with praline buttercream, and Cardinal Sin, flourless bittersweet chocolate cake—sell the most, alongside our savory quiches and delicious cookies,” she adds. “Of course, we do still specialize in wedding cakes, dessert tables and custom cakes. They are so much fun and let us be creative.”
High tea is also a mainstay, with interest increasing now that longtime Santa Rosa institution Tudor Rose English Tea Room recently closed its doors.
“We serve a West County High Tea, which consists of an endless pot of Mariage Freres Tea that we import from France, as well as a selection of sandwiches, seasonal sweet and savory pastries, and our house-made sauces: organic Meyer lemon curd, Sonoma shire clotted cream and raspberry preserves,” Karabelov says. “It provides a wonderful introduction to what we create here, and an experience that is unforgettable and has become a tradition for many of our local customers.”
Interested parties should note that high tea is offered for any number of people, but by appointment only. In addition, custom cakes must be ordered at least one week in advance, and wedding cake consultation appointments must be placed by phone. Sign up for the mailing list is on the website below.
“I have always loved cooking and baking for my family, and I wanted to do what I love for a living,” Karabelov says. “Through the Patisserie, I am able to do what I enjoy, while bringing happiness and a special degree of excellence to our customers. They especially write to me in an email or a text, or come back to thank us, for the most delicious and beautiful cake that their guests ever had.”
Patisserie Angelica, open Tues–Sun, 9am to 4pm, 6821 Laguna Park Way, Sebastopol. 707.827.7998. www.patisserieangelica.com.
Would like info on Tea