Why submit to stress? As the owner of a black and queer bakery, Queeman recognizes how important representation is. “I wanted to intentionally put myself on a platform to be seen,” he says. “So people who identify with me who are black and brown and queer can say, ‘I want to go on this show, and I can be myself too.’ That’s what really drove me.”
In August, Queeman opened his first mr bake bricks and mortar store in Le Fantome food hall in Riverdale, where it offers cupcakes, donuts and banana pudding. He borrowed his “world famous” banana pudding recipe from his Aunt Janet, who was the “most experimental” cook in her family. “People don’t get tired,” says Queeman. “I’ve tweaked it over the years, but it’s still true to the main recipe he gave me.”
Baking brought the native New Yorker to the area in 2010 when he was recruited to help open Fluffy Pansy Cakes in McLean. He would later help open the first Crumbs cake shop in DC before starting his own business. During that time, he lived all over the DMV: in Alexandria, in Northeast DC and around Prince George’s County, eventually settling in Temple Hills. However, at first Queeman did not like the area.
“I didn’t like the transportation system coming from New York City,” says Queeman, who didn’t know how to drive and had a grueling two-hour bus, train, bus and walk ride from Alexandria to McLean. “I cursed the subway system every day.” Once she settled in, and got his license and a car, she began to build a community here, full of friends and family, like his cousin, who moved in with him.
He has also come to appreciate the history of Prince George’s County, where he has spent much of his time. “Learning so much more about Prince George’s and how influential it was on African-American culture gave me a different perspective to see my culture and my people,” she says. Now Queeman feels that he has become part of that community, especially with his new bakery. “My dream as a child was to have a neighborhood bakery,” he says. “I love connecting with people.”
But on a dream day in DC, work is the furthest thing from Queeman’s mind: the agenda is all about food, friends and fun.
What am I doing first? I will go for a walk or jog a bit in DC. I love what they have done to the Southwest Waterfront and Wharf. I like to do things outdoors. I like to walk a lot. I’m from New York, I did it much of walking And walking is very therapeutic for me.
I go to 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, to the original location of Founding Farmers. When I was still a manager at Crumbs, they opened and my best friend worked there, and I could eat all the food, so I became part of the Founding Farmers family. It’s brunch, and I’m probably going to order chicken and waffles because that comes with a side of mac and cheese. I love the history and the story behind Founding Farmers. I like that it stays true to a southern flair, which is my background, even though I’m from New York, my family is from the south. I love craft cocktails. Give me the Constitution: a gin-based drink with ginger and chamomile.
I would love to do something artistic. I like to find small art galleries or even a paint and drink type of event. My friend owns a company called Artbae, and he puts on a lot of different art events in the DC area. He hosts events at pop-up galleries, hosts events at a restaurant with various artists. he teamed up with the real milk and honey: They have a huge space in Suitland, and they brought local black and brown artisans into the building, and their art is on display for guests to see and if they want they can buy the art too.
I’m going to take myself to Union market. I like the outdoors, and I love to people watch. My friend used to work at serenade [inside La Cosecha] and I made all my drinks, I don’t know what I got. I love the opening of the bar, and have met so many great people literally sitting there talking to my friend. And I love that it’s black and gay owned. So I’m definitely going to have another cocktail or two. I also have some friends who hang out with me. I’m still stuffed from brunch, but I’ll probably pick up a snack at Union Market. I love exploring emerging concepts.
then i have to go to the dirty goose. I love the rooftop, especially if Farrah Flosscett is DJing. Oh my gosh she will make me dance the food I ate and make me for dinner. My drink now is strictly Hendrick’s gin, tonic and two limes.
So since we’re already in the U street area, and I’m with my friends, I’m going to have a great dinner in a historical place: florida avenue grill. That’s another black-owned restaurant with southern cuisine, and there’s a lot of history in that building. Sometimes I go there just to truly connect with the people who have been in that building, and to have some really good food. You’re going to ask me what I’m going to get, it doesn’t matter. You can’t go wrong. Whether it’s grilled pork chops, turkey wings, candied yams, kale, you can’t go wrong with anything you get at Florida Avenue Grill, but keep in mind that you won’t be eating all of that in one sitting.
I go for a walk because I like to get away from the heavy meals I ate and I like to end the day the way I started. In New York, that was important to us: when we were done eating anywhere, we always walked a few blocks before hopping on the next train. So let’s end our day with a roundup of laughs and jokes. And taking a few steps down U Street, people watching.