Jasmin Smith, owner of Süss Pastries, has had a passion for food since she was 12 years old.
“I had these distinct moments in my life when I knew cooking is for me,” says Smith.
When she was 12, her stepdad, who worked for Hyatt hotels, brought her to work on one of those take-your-child-to-work days for school. “I’ll never forget walking into a commercial kitchen for the first time and being utterly awe-inspired. That’s when I knew.”
While other children her age played with tea sets, Smith says she was imagining her future restaurant. When it was time for culinary school, she faced a tough decision: savory or pastry. She chose the savory route, until she took her required baking course.
“My teacher made it so enjoyable I decided to change direction,” she says.
After completing culinary school, Smith worked at a few Arizona resorts. At Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, she learned to embrace local ingredients, particularly from the Sonoran Desert.
“I just want to make something different and Arizona has all these cool ingredients,” she says. “Having my own business allows me to explore, combine different flavors and textures.”
Smith buys most of her local ingredients from Mount Hope Foods, like prickly pear, mesquite, dates, corn, squash, hibiscus, and honey. The honey comes from Crockett Honey Co. in Tempe.
Smith started Süss as a side hustle in an apartment kitchen in Tempe in 2016. The name Süss (pronounced like Dr. Seuss), German for “sweet,” is an homage to her grandparents in Germany.
“When I eat a fresh strawberry, I think of summers in Germany,” she says. “My grandparents are avid gardeners. We used to go strawberry-picking, and me and my grandma would stay in the kitchen for hours. Or, we’d have these fish grills, where my grandpa would build a grill in the backyard and we’d grill whole fish.”
When Süss was getting started, Smith remembers her refrigerator was often full of baking ingredients and no room for her personal groceries. Two years later, Süss turned into a full-time business.
Smith has moved from her own kitchen to Stellar Catering near 16th Street and Bethany Home Road, with her team of two: Lataunya Benally (her “Pop-Tart Queen”) and Jessica Marzonie.
“I ask them, ‘Are you having fun?’ Put the fun in the pastries,” says Smith.
Süss pastries have a softness; a Tinker-Bell-spreading-glitter kind of femininity when you take a bite.
The Desert Queen, reminiscent of kouign amann (a Breton cake), gives you a bite of buttery pastry sprinkled with mesquite sugar, with a wonderful sweet and tart prickly pear flavor that Smith injects inside just before you pick up your box.
You might cut a piece just to taste, but soon you are tearing chunk after chunk.
On the menu, you also find bressanes, which some call the forgotten French pastry. Smith describes it as a danish with brioche dough that comes in both sweet and savory versions. Take a bite and you’ll realize why it was served at village feasts in France.
You may swoon over the green chili bressane. The softness of the brioche stands out. Then you're hit with the whirlwind of flavors, from onion and garlic in the Everything bagel to the chili cheese.
The pop tarts are beautiful parcels of tender pie dough, filled with jam and topped with icing and sprinkles that complement the filling.
Three kinds of cookies are available: peanut butter mesquite, lemon lavender, and corn sugar. Scones come in cinnamon chocolate chip (for sweet) and chorizo (for savory).
Süss also offers gluten-free sweets.
Initially, Smith hoped to supply one coffee shop. Today, she supplies eight.
According to Smith, you can order pastries directly from the website or Instagram, or find the products at the following coffee shops: Moxie, Café Mollie, Driftwood Coffee Co., Provision, Reap & Sow Coffee Bar, Space coffee, and Sagebrush. She says allow 24 hours’ advance notice for pastry orders (pick-up only), 48 hours for cakes, and 10 or more days for wedding parties.
Smith is planning storefront, Modern Harvest, coming in a few months. She plans to convert the front of Stellar Catering (where she currently bakes) into a storefront for baked goods. She will also feature other chefs and pop-up dinners.
6050 North 16th Street (inside Stellar Catering)