Famed for his lemon velvet cakes and for creating delicious goodies without gluten, dairy, animal products, bleached flour or anything in the least prefabricated, Rosendale's Alternative Baker—aka Essell Hoenshell-Watson—found his niche in baking after a career in the art world and polished his skills at the Culinary Institute of America. In retrospect, he says, it's only natural. "I was a weird little kid, enthralled by chemistry. 'What's in that? Why does it do that?' I always loved to cook, but as a friend from the Culinary said, I'd rather smell like sugar and spices than cooking grease.
"Baking has even more of the chemistry aspect. And I knew if I baked I could execute a quality project, start to finish, solo, without relying on anyone—which is good because I'm a quirky fellow. I have very low tolerance for others' lack of commitment, and I'm still that weird kid. But why be normal?"