Photo by Dave Zucker
The queer-owned brand led by food industry veterans creates out-of-this-world doughnuts that just so happen to be plant-based and gluten-free.
These doughnuts are really just amazingly tasty. That should be enough to sell you on them right there. If (for some ungodly reason) you want to argue, these delicious little babies are both gluten- and animal-product-free, meaning you’re officially out of excuses and must devour them all.
The joint venture of pastry chef Terri Dreisbach and industry pro Leah Guarino, Sweet and Salty Queens is a virtual bakery with presences at farmers’ markets in Queens (naturally), NYC, and primarily Peekskill, thanks to the pair’s recent relocation. Dreisbach, originally from Phoenix, is a pastry chef, formerly of Garibaldis, Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain, and Philippe Chow. Guarino, meanwhile, was born in Southeast Detroit and moved to New York City in 1997. Currently working in higher education, she put herself through school with a decade in the food industry.
What made Peekskill an attractive place to settle in? Were you part of the pandemic-NYC- mass-exodus?
Terri Dreisbach: Our decision to move to Peekskill really had nothing to do with the pandemic. Rather, we were looking for a queer-friendly, diverse, creative community. Peekskill encompasses all of those things. We had visited Peekskill and stumbled on the perfect opportunity to be in a space that already had a built-in creative and diverse community. The rest is history. We already feel welcome and very much at home.
What made you decide to take the leap into entrepreneurship?
Dreisbach: I’ve been a pastry chef for more than 25 years and have worked in bakeries, country clubs, and restaurants in San Francisco, Arizona, Connecticut, and NYC where the concept and vision of the products I produced has always been that of the organizations I have worked for. Like most professional chefs, throughout my career I often dreamed of having my own business where I could be in control of my vision and where my creativity could flourish. In 2018, I met my partner, Leah, who had a similar dream of opening some sort of business related to sweets. Leah and I would sit each morning and have coffee and talk about this dream, and what it could look like. When the pandemic began, though a grim time for us all, it gave us an opportunity to conceptualize what it would mean to put our dream into fruition.
You maintain a rotating menu of about a dozen or so flavors, all vegan and at least three of which are also gluten-free. Why is it important to you that everything on your menu carry that little “V” and “GF?”
Guarino: V and GF was not something Terri had ever attempted in her career. During the pandemic she began to read about vegan and gluten-free products and began to test out vegan recipes. She began with doughnuts and the first few attempts were actually quite horrible! This was a new challenge and something that allowed for a lot of creativity, and she fell in love with the doughnuts. We also wanted to be inclusive and recognize the need for V and GF desserts.
Where did the name come from?
Dreisbach: This name has so many meanings for us. Sure, it relates to food, but it also connects more closely to Leah and I and who we are as queer women.
Since June is Pride Month, can you tell us a little about what it means to you to be a queer-owned business?
Guarino: It’s important to be visible as a queer-owned business, especially to other folks in the LGBTQIA+ community. We want to make sure that we send the message that there is a lot of love in what we do and that the places we sell our products are inclusive spaces.
Vegan flavors currently on offer include lemon poppyseed, vanilla bean matcha, cold brew coffee, golden chai cinnamon sugar, pistachio rose (a personal favorite), double chocolate (okay, also a personal favorite), and more. Vegan and gluten-free options spotlight double chocolate, cinnamon sugar (with or without frosted cacao nibs), and buckwheat banana with orange and coconut. Each doughnut — essentially a baked and delicately frosted miniature bundt cake — costs $4 and is beyond worth it. They also offer wholesale options.
Readers ready to dig in can place custom orders online for delivery on Tuesdays and Fridays in Peekskill and the surrounding area ($20 minimum, no delivery fee for Peekskill residents) and soon via Hudson Milk + Market. You can also find Sweet and Salty Queens baked goods at the Peekskill Farmers’ Market on select dates, along with a full monthly calendar of appearances here. Early birds can even score a few at Peekskill Coffee House most mornings while supplies last, but you have to be quick because they sell out fast!