Danielle O’Day is the owner of Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop, the base of operations from which she has been creating her alternative recipes and edible art. Located at 7350 E Stetson Dr. in Scottsdale, Danielle has found a way to express her creativity in an edible medium—from gluten-free, dairy-free baked donuts to Star Wars inspired shaved ice. She hopes that her cutting-edge and artistic style adds life to the traditional Phoenix foodie scene.
WOD: Is there a pivotal moment that helped you realize you wanted to pursue baking?
Danielle: My biggest moment would have been back when I was 17 or 18 working in restaurants. I was a hostess, server – little stuff like that – and I started baking and bringing my goodies from home. What got me into a lot of that was alternative baking. My mom has a whole bunch of food allergies, so I just had a bunch of fun trying to figure out how to make the most decadent desserts that didn’t taste gluten-free, dairy-free – anything. The pivotal moment for me was actually baking stuff that was mind blowingly good. … At that point … it really felt like a career path that I wanted to pursue.
WOD: What makes your bakery unique?
Danielle: Everything is completely made from scratch, whole ingredients. I cannot stand processed anything. I think that that’s what makes us unique in that sense too is that everything is completely made from scratch. … Right now our pastry case is filled with gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan—vegan cheesecakes, vegan cupcakes—we’re currently trying to figure out the refined sugar-free. Sugar-free is very difficult. But for the most part, you’re pretty much able to find anything if you have dietary restrictions.
WOD: How would you describe your style?
Danielle: Colorful would be one. … Making sure that I’m always cutting edge and trendy is also a part of my style, where I’m constantly learning cake techniques and developing different things like that. … Honestly, a little over-the-top is what I like to call it too. Just fun. A lot of times when people are ordering their birthday cakes from us, I generally say I like to do tall, skinner cakes because it looks like this massive centerpiece.
WOD: What is the design process like?
Danielle: A lot of research is involved. Pastry suppliers and things like that definitely help because there’s a whole catalog of things that you won’t even know existed. On that note, usually if there’s an idea for a theme or a holiday coming up, I’ll sit and get out my giant sketchpad. … And then I’ll start sketching out deserts. First we start with concept. … Part of the process too is making sure that it actually tastes good because once the pictures are taken … you want to eat it and if it doesn’t taste good, you’re not gonna come back. … Another thing that I didn’t think would be so difficult is once you have this beautiful pastry, everyone wants it. So creating it on a mass scale was an entirely different animal.
WOD: How would you say your work contributes to the arts community in Phoenix?
Danielle: Half of the day, I’m actually painting and it’s an edible art which is so fun. I never deemed myself an artist my whole life until I started really getting into the theatrics of it and making the over-the-top pastries. I think any creative medium that you’re able to develop your own style can really fit within artistry.
From what I’ve noticed in the past couple of years, specifically with the food scene, there’s a lot of new contemporary twists from a very traditional standpoint. You still have the landmark restaurants that have been there for probably 30 to 40 years, but you also have these new really cool up and coming places. But that’s art right? Just constantly changing and following. But also being careful to just be paving your own way, while drawing so much inspiration from everything else. That’s what life is and what art is.