When Yuei Costello baked her first cake, it was imperative. It was 2020 and she was living in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Her cousin is getting married and due to the pandemic there are no businesses available to make her a wedding cake. In just one week of practice, she made a tiered cake for more than 150 people. She said baking became a hobby.
“I was helping my aunt manage a resort, and I had nothing to do during the pandemic,” Costello said. “So, I just found something to do, which was fun…but I didn’t think it would be at all. become a business.”
In August 2021, Costello moved to Kansas City from her native Thailand. That October, she married her husband, Patrick, whom she met 14 years earlier while working as a nanny in the United States. Costello also baked the treats for their wedding.
But when Cafe Cà Phê hosts a Lunar New Year celebration in 2022, Costello’s hobby begins to turn into life. It was there that the couple introduced her new Thai bakery, Mooyuei Baker. Mooyuei is a combination of the Thai word for pig and her name – she displays a pig on a pop-up table next to her sign.
“That was my first tee, because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Costello, returning to Cafe Cà Phê for this year’s celebration, Say. “I made Thai cakes: orange cake, chocolate cake and Thai tea cake. After that, I tried to combine (flavors) more. We also have another one that we call foi thong Pandan Cake with Sweet Egg Shredded. I try to make something more Thai and show people how it is. “
A Fusion of Thai and American Flavors
Costello says she likes combining Thai flavors and techniques with common American baked goods. Many of her desserts have a chiffon cake base to keep them light and airy. She makes them by hand in her home kitchen without machines. Costello, who once dreamed of making display cakes, says she strives to make each dessert an individual work of art.
Her products are “soft, not too sweet, and not too sugary”—unlike many American pastries—because Costello says she wants people to eat everything in one sitting.
Costello’s staples are the orange and ube cakes she brings to the many pop-ups she attends. But Patrick also has a specialty – black sesame cookies.
“From the beginning, she was always staying up later than me,” Patrick said. “Since she started doing it, I’ve also been staying up a lot late at night just helping out with bagging and printing out logos and some design stuff. But I make black sesame cookies — that’s my contribution.”
Costello is always thinking of new flavors and desserts to add to her rotation. She recently added banana coffee Oreo desserts (bananas, chocolate, caramel, Oreos and whipped cream layered in individual dishes), biscoff cheesecake and ube whoopie pie.
The self-taught baker has also been trying to master sugar cookies.
“I always say, ‘I hate it, but I do it,'” Costello said. “I just love to draw (design) and it’s fun. But they take time, a lot, because if you do everything by hand, you have to wait to paint another layer on top.”
Costello created sugar cookies decorated with rabbits and paper fans for this year’s Lunar New Year event. The baker participated in two pop-up events this weekend, each time making hundreds of desserts. During Saturday’s event, her sugar cookies sold out in less than two hours.
Costello’s return to Cafe Cà Phê this year isn’t just to celebrate the Lunar New Year—she’s also marking her one-year anniversary.
To celebrate, she handed out red envelopes — red envelopes traditionally filled with money and given out on Lunar New Year — that contained discount cards.
Costello’s Instagram follow, where she does most of her business, has grown exponentially in the year since she first popped up. She hopes to eventually open her own storefront.
For now, though, she’s happy to keep busy with her pop-up schedule, selling merchandise and fulfilling custom orders at cafes like Cafe Cà Phê and Gocha.
“I never say no to pop-ups,” she says. “I find it fun to challenge myself to try to get many menus at once and love meeting people and saying hello. Because I think the people here are always nice.”
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