/ Why she’s interesting / Bonning never intended to move back to Cleveland after driving to the West Coast at age 25 to develop her pastry skills. But since returning and expanding her small bakery into a full cafe in Ohio City, she has no plans to leave. Last year, she represented her hometown proudly with a win on an episode of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
/ A budding baker / Bonning wasn’t always a pastry whiz — she remembers trying to bake bread out of Bisquick when she was 7 — but she was always drawn to the kitchen. “[My mom] would pull me out of kindergarten and take me home to make Easter chocolates with her friend.”
/ California dreaming / Bonning can tell you a story or two about her time on the West Coast, which included playing bocce with billionaires and moving to Seattle to work under James Beard Award-winning chef Tom Douglas.
/ Fighting with Florian / During the judging for her Cupcake Wars episode, Bonning stood behind her dessert when chef Florian Bellanger dished out a heavy critique. “You see 20 seconds of it on TV. It went on for half an hour, where he’s just blasting with insults. After the judging was over, … he and I totally hugged it out.”
/ Celebrating the win / Bonning got to hang at a Dodgers game with former players and players’ wives. “That was great, but it was actually way cooler to be hanging out with the kids. … They were actually enjoying the cupcakes. It felt more celebrity to be around them.”
/ Chef Bon Bon / Cleveland Public Theatre recognized Bonning’s silly side and brought her on as the chef for Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, a kind of experimental dinner theater. “The only thing I can say really is naked men running through the crowds. I’m not kidding. You could end up shotgunning PBR. … There’s all kinds of wacky things that can happen at Conni’s.”
/ On opening Bonbon / At 27, Bonning led the pastry team at the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland. ”I was there for three years, but I had always wanted to do this, to be Bonbon, to be my own boss. I always felt I had more to offer.”
I went to the Bon Bon Cafe last weekend for lunch and the food was great! I also had a chance to speak with Courtney and tell her so myself. She was so friendly and charming! I highly recommend the Bon Bon experience!