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The Future of Pastry is Popping Up

Pastry chefs at vendor markets and pop-ups are quickly emerging as the future of pastry, and for good reason. These talented individuals are redefining the pastry industry in myriad ways, from their commitment to using locally sourced ingredients to their innovative and personalized creations that connect with customers on a deeper level. Below, we will look at three pastry chefs who use pop-ups to shape the future of pastry.

Vendor markets and pop-ups allow pastry chefs to showcase their creativity and artisanal skills in a more intimate and hands-on setting. These chefs can experiment with flavors, textures, and techniques, resulting in one-of-a-kind pastries that cannot be found in traditional bakeries. In Chicago, one can discover that What Margie Made, Maa Maa Dei, and Masiramon’s unique creations are a testament to the exciting innovation happening within this niche.


“Pop-ups and vendor markets are essential in allowing small business owners like me to have a voice and opportunity to showcase our products and talents,” says Marguerite Singson, Pastry Chef and Owner of What Margie Made (@margie_the_foodie on Instagram). “Since I don’t have a set menu, pop-ups are ideal for my business model. I can test out different recipes and keep my menu fresh. While it takes more time to plan and work out logistics, I enjoy the flexibility of pop-ups.”

Maa Maa Dei’s Rainbow Teochew-Style Spiral Mooncakes with chunky taro filling.

Like her pastries, Marguerite is passionate about presenting a creative and unique experience that will resonate with consumers. She enjoys the collaboration and partnership that comes with planning a pop-up. Often, she works with the pop-up host to curate a special menu specific to the event with a cohesive theme. Chef Marguerite will also incorporate their products and cross-promote the businesses.

Offerings from What Margie Made are rooted in modern classic desserts, with fresh and exciting flavors and presentations such as lemon madeleines with blueberry compote or strawberry rhubarb tartlet with Tahitian vanilla and white chocolate whipped ganache—her delicious vegan matcha blueberry pistachio petit gateau. One elaboration on a vendor pop-up was her Mario Bros theme for Mar10 (Mario) Day pop-up setup at Konbini x Kanpaiin Chicago. 

Pastry chefs at vendor markets and pop-ups have the advantage of direct customer interaction. This face-to-face engagement enables them to receive immediate feedback and build relationships with their patrons. They can tailor their offerings to customer preferences, ensuring that each pastry is a personalized experience. This level of customer interaction fosters a sense of community and loyalty that is rare in larger, more impersonal pastry shops.


One of the chefs creating savory items as well as desserts is Noelle Fajardo of Masiramon Chicago (https://www.masiramonchicago.com/). Starting in 2021 with chocolate-dipped treats, Noelle has grown her menu to pay homage to her roots, her family and the Philippine culture. In addition to chocolate-dipped treats, she now offers specialties such as ube brownies, ube crinkle cookies, and cassava cake.

Noelle explains, “As a micro bakery, doing pop-ups is my favorite part of the business. I can shop in different locations in the city and the suburbs and connect with many people while sharing the Filipino culture, hospitality, and flavors.”

Noelle says this is one of the reasons she has yet to move into a traditional brick-and-mortar. “I would, of course, still do pop-ups when I have a storefront, but I know it wouldn’t be as frequent, and I’d miss the pop-up community too much,” explains Noelle. “For now, I’ll continue to save up towards a storefront and enjoy popping up wherever I can!”

Farmers’ markets and pop-ups offer pastry chefs a flexible platform to experiment and adapt to changing trends and customer demands. They can quickly pivot to create pastries that align with seasonal celebrations, holidays, or local events. This adaptability ensures that their offerings remain fresh and relevant, catering to the ever-evolving tastes of their customer base.

Chinese Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Maa Maa Dei.


“Every pop-up is unique because it is in a different location with a different host,” said Jaye Fong of Maa Maa Dei (@maa.maa.dei on Instagram). “Each of our hosts has been so generous, and the cross-pollination between our respective audiences makes every pop-up fun and exciting!”

What Jaye likes about the experience is that vendor pop-ups have the flexibility to change menus all the time, so she enjoys collaborating with others, exploring traditional foods, and creating new items for returning fans.

Maa Maa Dei’s baked goods lean on tradition but reveal a personal style, as if eating food made by a close friend or loved one, as experienced when tasting the Chinese cheddar bay biscuit or salted sakura shortbread cookies. Jaye’s rainbow Teochew-style spiral mooncakes with chunky taro filling are genuinely otherworldly. At present, you can only find these at vendor pop-ups, at least until Maa Maa Dei might find a permanent location.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlet with Tahitian vanilla Ivoire whipped ganache from What Margie Made.

“I would love to have a small brick-and-mortar one day, especially because we have received such loving encouragement from our customers!’ exclaims an appreciative Jaye. “We’re envisioning a bakery in the morning and a Hong Kong-style cafe the rest of the day.”

Farmers’ markets and pop-ups provide a fertile ground for emerging pastry chefs to hone their skills and gain exposure in the culinary world. These settings often serve as a stepping stone for chefs to launch businesses or secure positions in renowned establishments. As such, they are a vital part of the culinary ecosystem, nurturing talent and fostering innovation.

By experiencing the work of pastry chefs at vendor markets and pop-ups, one can experience pastry’s future. These chefs’ commitment to creativity, direct customer engagement, and support for local economies make them a driving force behind the evolution of our beloved culinary art. As they continue pushing pastry’s boundaries, we can look forward to a future filled with even more exciting, locally inspired, and personalized sweet creations.

(This article appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

Jimmy MacMillan
Jimmy MacMillan
Jimmy MacMillan is a celebrated pastry chef, food writer, and award-winning videographer. Working under the label Pastry Virtuosity, his mission is to inspire and nurture pastry chefs and sweet businesses one project at a time. For more information, visit: www.pastryvirtuosity.com.