It's a family affair at Rustika Cafe & Bakery. Francis Reznick, along with her husband, Leonardo, has been running and operating Rustika for 20 years. While he manages the cafe side of the business, Chef Francis is the mastermind behind the beautifully designed cakes, cookies and pastries created in the kitchen.
She graduated from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and moved to Houston in 1994. She and her husband opened Rustika the following year.
"I loved to bake, and I needed to find something to do here," Reznick says. "So I started baking in my home and started going to restaurants to see if they liked my baking; they loved it and they started buying from me."
She explains that operating her baking business from home became too difficult, so she and her husband decided to move the business into a larger space, settling on a Buffalo Speedway location. A forced relocation took them to their current home, on the Southwest Freeway.
"We decided just to do more wedding and more elaborate cakes, because I have the artistic flair of a graphic designer and I love to paint," she explains. "I love to create and do all of those things, so we started doing that."
Reznick used to bake and decorate every product on her own, but now has staff to do most of the baking, leaving her time to do what she loves most: decorating.
"I don't bake them [the cakes] anymore because the recipes are set," she says. "I start baking when I do a new product. What I do mostly is decorate cakes; it's what I love to do. The decoration of the cakes is my passion."
Seeing the popularity of over-the-top cakes and crazy designs on baking-contest television shows, Reznick decided to follow the trend and create cakes with elaborate designs, to which her customers have enthusiastically responded. One thing that she won't change, however: her recipes.
"All of the recipes are from my family or recipes that I like that I change a little bit for my style," she says. "Everything here is made with real butter. No shortenings, nothing artificial. If I am going to eat something, it has to taste good. If I don't like it, it doesn't come out for the customer."
Reznick and her husband know that quality is what keeps customers, and quality is the highest priority for them in creating anything.
"If you get icing at any place, it is very sweet. They use Crisco," Leonardo says. "A 30-pound box [of Crisco] is $10. You buy butter, it will be $100. So, people don't use it because it is too expensive. Anything you touch here is going to be the highest quality. If not, they tell me and I change it immediately."