Photography by Aimee Wenske
Young husband-and-wife pastry chefs Amanda and Mike Joyner were inspired to start their company, Retro Bizzaro, after watching the iconic Anthony Bourdain tour a defunct Twinkie factory on his TV show, No Reservations. Bourdain pointed out how the entire supply of leftover Twinkie filling had sat untouched, even by rodents, for so many years. This got the Joyners thinking. What if they could come up with a treat that delivered delicious, fluffy-cake enjoyment but wasn’t stuffed with . . . well, whatever constitutes the innards of an actual Twinkie?
Meet the Retro Bizzaro Log—an oblong vanilla snack cake filled with cream and, depending on the season, other interesting options like Texas grapefruit.
Inspired, and clearly on a (sugar-glazed) roll, the couple took on even more kitschy American standards like Ding Dongs, Moon Pies and snickerdoodles to come up with Saucers, Bella Lunas and Snickies. The retro theme doesn’t simply refer to the foods they emulate, though. A collection of old cookbooks acquired over the years offers guidance and inspiration, as well as methods and ingredients from days gone by. The Retro Bizzaro line features as many local ingredients as the chefs can get their hands on—from Vital Farms eggs to Way Back When Dairy milk to Round Rock Honey. Even the stickers they put on their finished sweets are made in Austin. Mike says they aren’t interested in artificial anything. “If my grandmother couldn’t buy it, I won’t buy it.”
By day, Mike is the pastry chef for FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar and ASTI Trattoria, and the couple has two young children. These factors make planning Retro Bizzaro’s weekly itinerary—which includes selling at the HOPE Farmers Market and the Truck Farm Farmers Market—a tricky balancing act. Amanda jokes that each new week begins Sunday evenings, at the exact second that dinner is finished.
The Joyners alternate working in a rented commercial-kitchen space—one preps and cooks, while the other takes care of the kids. Then they switch. In addition to their current line of treats, they’re constantly working on new possibilities and culinary curiosities. Amanda’s Bacon Jam, for example—featuring meat from Kocurek Charcuterie and Richardson Farms—has really taken off. And they’ve been scheming to create the first product that will break their “only pure and natural ingredients” rule: the Big Red Artie-Q—a Suzy Q-inspired cake enhanced with the vibrant red soft drink.
Ultimately, the Joyners hope to move Retro Bizzaro to a brick-and-mortar location. But for now, in addition to their farmers market sales, they’re looking to expand to local eateries and create a custom line of treats for each locale.
Find Retro Bizzaro at the HOPE Farmers Market on Sundays and at the Truck Farm Farmers Market on Thursdays. retrobizzaro.com.