Smack dab in the middle of the heart of Olde Pickerington Village in a circa early 1900s building is BakerHouz on 8, a one-of-a-kind bakery created from the eclectic vision of pastry chef Chiat Mei Yow.
Mei's patented specialty cakes, delectable pastries and vegan and gluten-free cookies are leaving their mark on the city and beyond since her business opened last October.
Her circuitous path to both entrepreneurship and Pickerington is a story as interesting as the goodies she concocts from scratch on a daily basis.
A native of Temerloh, Malaysia, Mei first came to America to attend college in the heartland city of Dubuque, Iowa.
She later transferred to Chico State University in California to study fashion merchandising. Upon graduation she was employed in the retail fashion industry, but found her true calling in cooking.
Some cooking classes at a community college turned into culinary school in South Carolina which turned into her working at some of most prestigious hotels in the country, including The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Mandarin Oriental in Miami.
It was in Florida Mei discovered her love for pastries, working along side some of the best pastry chefs in the business.
Mei moved to central Ohio in 2007 to work as a pastry chef at various high-end establishments, however, she yearned for something more.
When she started her own catering business, she soon realized she needed a bigger kitchen than the one in her home. Last year she set out in search of the perfect place.
"It's always a chef's dream to open their own place," Mei said.
"I was driving around to see what places had openings. I saw this place and came in here in July.
"I got everything open in October. I didn't think I would open up so soon," she said.
As the afternoon light shone through the bay window of her business at 8 E. Columbus St. in Olde Pickerington Village, Mei smiled.
"This is why I fell in love with the building. The window is perfect," she said.
The building aptly showcases Mei's cake designs and pastry talents.
Her novelty cakes include renditions of a Rubik's Cube, a police car, a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka, a boom box and even a designer handbag.
"Customers will tell me what occasion they're looking for and I create something for them," Mei said.
"It's something they can relate to," she said.
A sampling of other offerings include locally roasted coffee, several varieties of gluten-free cookies, goat cheese biscuits, apricot puff pastries, spicy "chipotle" muffins with three different peppers topped with candied bacon and on the weekends, her patented cinnamon rolls.
BakerHouz on 8's signature treat -- and best-seller -- is the "Buckeye" cake. It is chocolate cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese finished with a chocolate ganache frosting.
Mei said she likes to give back to a community that has welcomed her with open arms by ensuring that any biscuits and muffins left over don't go to waste.
"What doesn't sell, we give it to the (PCMA) pantry," she said.
"They will come to pick them up every Saturday. We put them in the freezer so all they have to do is heat them up, they're really good," she said.
She said she appreciates the support from other downtown Pickerington businesses as well, who all are quick with referrals.
"All have been really kind to me," Mei said.
"We all want people come down and check us all out."
When she's not busy in the kitchen, Chiat Mei Yow spends time with her husband Ryan Rohrer and their menagerie of four chihuahuas and two cats.
"This is my baby," she said, referring to her business, making sure to add "but he helps out."
BakerHouz on 8 is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.