We had the good fortune of connecting with Lorena Valdivia Miranda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lorena, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from Chile, and I grew up in a small city called Rancagua, all my family is still there. Food and homemade baked sweets are an important part of our life, we have to have something sweet for celebrations, for afternoon snack, and always end up a meal with something sweet. Most of the women in my family are good cookers or/and bakers, my younger sister is a chef. My mom was a working mom, but she always had time to cook and to make sweets for us, specially on Sunday, that was the day she baked something for us, when I was in college she had a small cottage business, chocolate bonbons. Growing up for me the kitchen wasn’t something I liked, I studied biochemistry, I was a science nerd. Later I got married and my husband was offered a position in São Paulo, Brazil. We moved there with a 2 year old little boy, I stopped working and I became a full time house wife, living there it opened my eyes, always taking my son to birthday parties, and every time I went to one I was delighted with all the beautiful and delicious creations at those parties, the cakes, the small sweets, everything was magical for me. It was there that I discovered my passion for baking, For me baking is still my way to express love or care, that essence of family, a warm place, but with the side of science, precision, accuracy
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a Pastry Chef, and owner of Jojo’s Sweets LLC a cottage baking business, I specialize in custom cakes, macarons, Chilean baked sweets, and more. For me it’s all about seeing happy faces, to know I make someone happy at least for a couple of minutes. There is a long history behind where I’m now, I had a very Chilean middle class life growing up, working parents, I went to college for biochemistry, I got married, had a son, we moved to Brazil and my life changed, i had my second son and I discovered my passion for baking, I took classes on cake decorating and fundamentals of baking and pastry, I had a home based cake decorating business, always thinking into transforming into something bigger, but we were transferred to Australia, we lived three years there, and I didn’t do much with baking, just for home or friends, they always insisted that I should have my own business, but it was time to move again, this time to Texas. In 2018 after thinking a lot in what the future will be for my husband and I after the kids left home, we thought into have a small cake/coffee shop, I took the decision and I went to study to become a pastry chef. I was 46, more than 30 years since college, I drove almost 2 hours a day to go to classes, I was studying and taking care of my family at the same time, in July 2019 my husband passed from a heart attack, I stopped my studies to reorganize our lives, as many immigrants families we don’t have any relatives living in the United States, and life isn’t easy if you don’t have a job, luckily for us my late husband was an extremely organized and farsighted man, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t need to work, then by December 2019 I started my business, and by the way the name is in his honor, Jojo was his nickname, I went back to culinary school last January and I finished this October. I can’t say it has been easy, becoming a widow, taking care of your kids, a pandemic, to finish culinary school, and run a business, but I’m a mother first and that is the reason I wake up every morning and I keep going, it’s never to late to follow your dreams.. What I think differentiates my business is my multiculturalism, I have had the privilege of having lived in countries with very different cultures, and traveled to others too, I feel very happy when someone says to me “really? can you make this, you know this cake, sweet etc?, I feel there is a connection with my client, and the more important thing I love what I do,
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I lived in The Woodlands, and it’s a beautiful place perfect for families, first I’ll take her/him for a bike ride to see the town, we have paths under the trees that connect the whole town, you can reach any place of the town by bike For lunch my favorite place is the Wheel Kitchen, it’s located in Tomball a quick drive from The Woodlands, a farm to table cafe, with a relaxed atmosphere, outdoor sitting under the trees, their food is amazing and the coffee is superb, At night we can enjoy live music at Hughes Landing, with views of Lake Woodlands, its free and outdoor There is many outdoor activities we can do in The Woodlands: The Riva Row boat house rents kayaks, paddle boards, to enjoy Lake Woodlands. Hiking at the George Mitchell Natural preserve, is a 1,800 acre preserve with various hike and bike trails, I love to take my dog for walks there. If they are interested in shopping there is Market Street and upscale area that has retail, restaurants and cinema. And if my friend is lucky we might go to a show at the Cynthia Woods Pavillion, and outdoor venue that has a lawn area at the top.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There isn’t just one person, to my late husband Jorge who always believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dreams, to my children Ignacio and Gabriel, who have been by my side always cheering me up and enduring my stress, to all the to amazing women that I have meet in my life from my mother, my sister and my friends all over the world, without their support and love I won’t be here standing on my feet right now, and to my chefs in culinary school.