If you've ever been delighted by the sweet treats and other goodies found in The Gourmet Shoppe at Bakersfield's Cafe Med, you know Jonell Cleveland, even if you've never met her.

Cleveland, a native of Delhi, La., and Bakersfield resident for more than 40 years, is the pastry chef and manager of The Gourmet Shoppe. A passion for cooking led her to a sweet career, and her scrumptious creations with personal touches -- eclairs, cakes, tarts and croissants among them -- are tasty, French-inspired choices for finishing off a fine lunch or dinner at the restaurant.

Cleveland recently took a break from the kitchen to tell us a little more about herself.

Sugar, dairy and cocoa: Is there a more wonderful combination of things anywhere?

If you find it, please let me know!

What kind of personality do you need to succeed as a pastry chef?

Pastry chefs should be crafty, determined, and a people pleaser.

Store-bought cookie dough: Evil or super-evil?


Which of your pastries most reflects the community, and why?

Five-layer bars, because both the pastry and Bakersfield are filled with diversity.

Other than yours, where else do you go for pastries in town?

Someone else makes pastries?

What's the grandest kitchen creation you've ever come up with?

Mousse cakes.

Which time of the year is the toughest for you?

Holidays, mainly Valentine's Day and Christmas.

In your line of work, it must be tempting to munch on everything in sight. How do you handle it?

There are always willing testers around, so I utilize them.

Which saying has the most meaning to you: "easy as pie," "piece of cake," "butter me up" or "cream of the crop"?

Cream of the crop.

What's the most common mistake in preparing pastries and desserts?

Not following the recipes.

Don't you think America needs more TV shows about cake?

Yes, yes, yes!

Tell us about your worst kitchen disaster:

I had a large pot of cream boil over ... What a mess!

Which pastry is most popular at Cafe Med?

The lemon bars.

Are there any pastries you don't like?

Is this a trick question?

Why should people buy your red velvet cake over others in town?

It's moist, delicious and made fresh that morning.

What's your favorite thing to make? Cream delight cakes.

Dessert is an indulgence, but for those who can't go whole hog, what do you recommend?

Petit fours (small, bite-size desserts).

What's your favorite Bakersfield restaurant? What do you order?

Cafe Med. Filet mignon, mashed potatoes and strawberry salad.

There oughta be a law against:

Counting calories!

Do you know of a great personality for our "Conversations With?" feature? Contact Lifestyles Editor Jennifer Self: 395-7434 or jself@bakersfield.com.