“The pursuit of wagashi and other delectable Japanese pastries will forever be my passport to happy memories, and I am lucky enough to be turning this pursuit into a career.”
My love for cultural immersion led me to study abroad in Paris during a portion of my first year at the University of Chicago. I spent all of my junior year studying in Kyoto at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. There, I lived with a host family on a mountain that was populated by monkeys. The area was full of outdoor food and sweets stands and solidified my allegiance to pastry. Living in France and Japan sparked my love for traveling in search of the next sugary moment that I’ll document in writing or food styling. I am especially drawn to the versatility of Japanese sweets, as they are often able to capture any memory in a fleeting yet poignant way.
Wagashi is the versatile Japanese confectionery art that is often inspired by poetry and the seasons. The status of wagashi as a vital art form is anchored in its ability to reflect the fleeting nature of our lives and times. It is the quintessential example of food as art. I was fortunate enough to take a few wagashi classes from confectioners in Kyoto. I quickly learned to appreciate the painstaking effort that goes into a treat that is consumed within minutes. One of my favorite Kyoto memories is of wandering an entire floor of a department store that was devoted to wagashi.
Matcha Strawberry Pocky Cake
Last year, I attended the French Pastry School in Chicago with the dream of eventually owning a pastry company. With each treat that I create, it is more and more clear to me that I want Japanese styles and flavors to be a unifying element defining all that comes out of my oven. I now keep a blog, hadleygolucky.com, where I document all of the pastries that I produce. They often incorporate Japanese influences, like a kintsugi pottery-inspired cake and a matcha cake with strawberry cream cheese icing surrounded by a little Pocky fence. Designing themed cakes from start to finish is the most satisfying work that I’ve ever done. I am fueled by the desire to highlight Japanese culture within the context of pastry, the most ephemeral of arts.
I am especially drawn to the Japanese phrase “ichi-go ichi-e,” or “one time, one meeting.” While in Japan, I learned to truly savor moments, because they will never happen again. I enjoy looking at life through this lens of conscientious gratitude for in-the-moment miracles. When creating pastries, I make beautiful moments that will persist in people’s memories, even if the treat itself only lasts a few minutes before it’s reduced to crumbs.
Now, I’m in the beginning stages of launching my own custom pastry business. I take custom pastry orders from clients in New York and Chicago, ranging from batches of specialty cookies to cakes that feed eighty people. I’m always excited to coordinate pastry orders. Please contact me at email@example.com if you have any inquiries! In addition to my blog, you can see more of my work on my Instagram account, @hadleygolucky. I’m also currently planning a plated dessert pop-up pastry shop in New York, with an emphasis on Japanese traditions. Watch my blog for information on how to attend the pop-up!