By Shannon Oelrich
Photography by Marc Brown
Two pastry chefs and two kids under one roof might sound like the setup for a sitcom—clouds of flour everywhere, the baby stuck in a batch of dough, splatters of chocolate ganache on the walls—but it seems to work more like a dream for Philip and Callie Speer.
The Speers met through a mutual friend at Posse East, a popular haunt for University of Texas students, but didn’t go on a date until a few months later. “Past that point, we’ve never spent a day apart,” says Callie, who’s the pastry chef and owner of Cakemix, a specialty cake company. Before Cakemix, she worked at celebrated Austin eateries like Jeffrey’s, Mars and Parkside—honing her skills until she decided to start her own business.
Philip has an impressive résumé as well: Starlite, Jean-Luc’s French Bistro, Granite Café, Seven and Jean-Georges Bank in Houston. Currently, he’s the executive pastry chef at Uchi and Uchiko, where he experiments with textures, flavors and ingredients as part of Chef Tyson Cole’s nationally acclaimed kitchen.
At home, though, the two chefs keep it casual. “When we cook at home, the meal isn’t really planned until we start cooking,” says Philip. “We’re not really recipe followers.”
Happily, their kids, Ella (age 11) and Lucia (age 2), “will both actually eat pretty much anything,” says Callie. “Like other kids, they definitely enjoy the staples, like mac and cheese, but have turned out to be pretty adventurous eaters.”
When the Speers cook for friends and family, fajitas and beer is the go-to menu. “We have a lot of family, so when we give a party, we are usually cooking for the masses,” says Philip, whose earliest kitchen memory is watching his great-grandmother Lucia making fresh tortillas.
Philip’s favorite thing to eat at home is Callie’s carrot cake cookies, while Callie loves biscuits and chocolate gravy—a dish from her childhood. “It took Philip a while to get used to that one, but the girls loved it immediately,” she says.
The busy couple doesn’t get a lot of downtime. “When we are not working, we spend a lot of time with our family. Really, we do whatever will keep the girls entertained,” Philip says. Instead of cooking, the family often heads to a favorite local eatery. “I love going to Maudie’s,” says Callie. “It’s all about the Tex-Mex and margaritas for me.”
Philip’s list is a bit longer: “Báhn mì, Tam’s, then for a veggie burger, or any burger with a delicious bun, The Woodland. For barbecued pork, Din Ho. For pork buns, East Side King. For sushi, Uchi, of course. For barbecue and banana pudding, Opie’s. For fried-egg sandwiches, Hyde Park Bar and Grill . . . the foie blond pâté at Parkside . . . I could go on and on. . . .”
Life is sweet for two pastry chefs in love with each other, their children and food.