Lani Halliday

Brutus Bakeshop
Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Three words: Guava Passionfruit Poptarts. That's all that it took for us to fall in love with Lani Halliday, and after meeting her, we fell hard and fast. This Brooklyn-based baker is an all around badass whose life story inspired us to new heights. We hung out with Lani at her Bed-Stuy production space, watched her dole out Miso Chocolate Chip cookies by the dozen, and reminisced about days as a 20-something working in music and living in London. Now this incredible mother of two is making it all happen as the Owner/Founder of Brutus Bakeshop.
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Full name, age where are you from?

I'm Lani Halliday. I'm 40 and I hail from BKNY.

What was growing up like for you and did you have family meals growing up?

What was growing up like?! Oof - that's a whole different article for a different day, but as far as family meals- yeah my mom and my dad were both talented cooks who loved to cook and eat. Weekly church potlucks in my little hometown of Ewa Beach were so multicultural and have definitely shaped my food worldview and I also LIVED for my dad frying up chicken and donuts.

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What meal, or beverage, most reminds you of your childhood?

Eating a cheese danish from the bakery next to the Woolworths in the strip mall in Ewa Beach was my first food-related "YO!" moment. I definitely feel nostalgic for lumpia and manapua too. Ooh and shave ice.  

Tell us a bit about your venture. What is your role and how did you get into this industry?

I own and operate Brutus Bakeshop- a GF Baking Company based in BKNY. I have an online shop, some wholesale partners where you can cop the goods and a "permanent pop-up" inside of Ursula, the New-Mexican Restaurant on Sterling Place in Crown Heights owned by Eric See. I'm a lifelong hospitality industry person- and honestly came into it out of necessity- I needed to work and earn without a pedigree. I returned to it after a 6 year break as a stay-at-home parent on the back of a devastating separation.

I didn't have a college degree, money or a sense of self worth, but I've got an incredible work ethic and I needed to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. I've since converted my work into this path of creativity and self-confidence and caring for my community. I've changed, so it's changed, but the start was the same- a jumping off point that's very "choose your own adventure".

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How has the pandemic affected you?

Big question- it's affected me in a lot of ways- I've connected with myself, worked on personal development and taken risks both in my business life and personally. I really went for it with work. Pushed myself forward with some hard work and learned to rest. I signed a lease on a production space that is my own which is major- it's basically one big exercise is trusting myself, loving myself and investing in myself.

What do you think working in this industry during this time has taught you?

Working in this industry during this time has shown me how hard my peers and colleagues ride for each other and the communities that we serve. That looking out for each other and supporting each other is truly at the core of the people who make this industry pop- or maybe it's taught me that I've been able to create that community in my life because that's at the core of who I am. Still processing. Definitely taught me that the future isn't guaranteed and while planning is important, so is keeping it in the day. focus on the 'now'. And to trust myself.

What is your favorite item on the menu?

My FAVORITE item on the Brutus Bakeshop menu is def the tubs of Miso Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough- it’s delicious yes but it’s really fun and lovely to gift. Sharing sweets is one way I care for my community. So it’s def my fave.

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Once it is completely safe to eat out again and socialize, where is the first place you're going out to eat at and what are you ordering?

Probably Grabbing Eric See (of Ursula), Woldy Reyes (of Woldy Kusina) and my boo and heading to Reiki Brunch at Crown Height Kundalini hosted by Klancy Miller + Davis Thompson-Moss. It's an intimate supper-club vibe (but brunch, obvi) in a gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone and it's served family style so I'm going to feign politeness then hoard the gorgeous waffles that are always served. Klancy and Davis always seem to pull together the most interesting people and there's reiki and meditation just before we eat. Honestly doesn't get much better.

Anything exciting coming up for you?

I just started offering my Miso Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (vegan, GF + soy-free) for sale on my website and through our Brooklyn-based partners, Farm To People. That and all of the fun episodes in the pipeline for Baking Outside The Lines, my youtube baking show that I created with my creative partner Tom Gorelik. I'm playing with the idea of a 2nd "permanent pop-up" situation in Fort Greene... 2021 will reveal all of her secrets in due time, I guess.

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