Meet Jennifer Watts! Jennifer is the owner of Zell’s Cottage Bakery in Gainesville, she is a mother to three, (Nicholas, 16, Cullen, 11 and Amelia, is 16 months old), engaged to Josh and moved to the area two years ago.
Zell’s Cottage Bakery is named after Jennifer’s grandmother and she has spent her entire life baking and has now turned her love of all sweet things into a full time career. Soon, you may even see a storefront for Zell’s Cottage Bakery.
She entered her first cake competition this year and won first place in the taste category and grand prize overall which earned her the distinction of the Best Baker in Georgia.
“I love it (Hall County)! The people here are so supportive, it is incredible. Even the local bakers are supportive and encouraging. We send each other clients when we are unavailable or it’s something we don’t specialize in. It’s so nice to have camaraderie; Gwinnett County was not like that at all. It was cutthroat but here everyone has been so welcoming,” she said. “It has literally has been a whirlwind since Valentines Day.”
We want to thank Jennifer for recently spending time with us and telling us more about her life and love of Hall County.
Question: What makes your cakes and cookies different than other bakers’?
Answer: “I’m a third generation baker, my business is named after my grandmother and she taught my mother how to bake and decorate cakes, my mom taught me. Since I was countertop height I have been mixing and making buttercream roses and all that. I took what my family recipes were and made them more modern. All of my cakes are baked from scratch, I don’t make anything store bought. It does make a difference. I use fresh local produce whenever I can, that also makes a difference. I rarely us extracts, when I make a lemon cake I use real lemon juice and lemon zest, so you get a natural lemon taste. I also like to play with flavors. Most of my flavors are pretty traditional but I do events; like a cupcake and beer pairing at Left Nut Brewery…I sampled their beer and I came up with cupcake to pair with it. In the past I’ve done cupcakes that are buttered popcorn and maple bacon, I’ve done a Nerds cupcake that had Nerds in the batter and Kool-Aid frosting. It was really fun playing with that. I’ve done grapefruit and mango, any sort of fun flavors, I love to play with.”
Q: What is your favorite cake flavor?
A: “The cake that I did for the competition is one of my favorites, it was a dark chocolate cake and then I did a brown sugar, Swiss buttercream. It is a light buttercream but it has that brown sugar power taste to it with a bacon toffee bark on top, it was incredible. It had the sweet, salty and cayenne pepper for a little heat.”
Q: What do you love about Hall County?
A: “I love it! The people here are so supportive, it is incredible. Even the local bakers are supportive and encouraging. We send each other clients. It’s so nice to have camaraderie; Gwinnett County was not like that at all. It was cutthroat but here everyone has been so welcoming.”
Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant in Hall County?
A: “We are regulars at El Sombrero, we love Alpha Gyro Grill … we go to Loco’s and get a drink and wings. Luna’s is fantastic for date night.”
Q: What’s the first movie you saw in the theatre?
A: “It was the ‘Care Bears Movie’ with my dad when I was about 6.”
Q: What three musicians would you want to see in concert, dead or alive?
A: “I love Chris Stapleton, I love the sound of his voice. The Beatles and Bob Marley.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go?
A: “Someplace warm and tropical and get away from this cold, with crystal clear blue water, toes in the sand and leaving all devices at home.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “I want to travel the world, I bought Josh a map for his birthday a couple years ago and you are supposed to scratch off the places we’ve been and we are still working on that. We have been to border states but not out of the country, yet. If I could pick someplace I would want to go to Italy and eat the food and drink the wine and ride on the gondolas.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
A: “Definitely in a store front and there is some work in progress to do that in the next few months.”
Q: What three words mean ‘HOME’ to you?
A: “Family, love, support.”