Artistic and Culinary Treasures of Seminole County: Get to Know These Black Creators

By: Chauniqua Major

When you think of art, what comes to mind? Paintings, sculptures, maybe even a drawing from your 5-year-old kid. But what about doughnuts, handmade soaps, or the perfect meal? Believe it or not, these can also fall under the category of art! This year, as we celebrate Black History Month with the national theme focusing on Black Americans’ contributions to the arts, it’s the perfect time to explore the rich artistic culture right here in Orlando North.

Join us as we take a closer look at some of the incredible business owners in the area and how you can immerse yourself in their work.

The Art of Dough: Donut’se Doughnuts

Opening Year: 2022

Owners: Chef Shalom, co-founder, Victoria, co-founder & partner chef, and Natalie, business partner & investor

Hours of Operations: Must pre-order ahead! Currently open for pick-up on Wednesday from 7:30-9:30 a.m., Friday 7:30-9:30 a.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Why Doughnuts?

“One day, we decided to venture off into plant-based cuisine and design plant-based dishes. I presented some dishes, and Chef Victoria shared that they were amazing, but there wasn’t anything nostalgic about them. And she asked me what plant-based dishes I could make that I felt would mean a lot to me. After exploring various ideas, we started to experiment with doughnuts, which are traditionally made with butter, milk, and eggs. Ultimately, we thought this would be a great playground to create the best doughnut in the world, but also the best plant-based doughnut. And lo and behold, years later, we have created the best doughnut in the world at Donut’ste doughnuts.”

Share the art behind making the perfect doughnut. Is there a special technique or did you learn from a family member?

The perfect doughnut came through trial and error. Many find it hard to believe, but this was our first attempt at a doughnut, let alone a plant-based doughnut. But as chefs, we take great pride in our quality and execution. During a time when we were homeless and sleeping on a friend’s floor, we locked ourselves in the kitchen to figure out the recipe. Our kitchen was our home. We didn’t leave that kitchen until we had something that resembled a doughnut. In time, we realized that we were on to something. We didn’t have a recipe handed down to us, but instead, we slowly created it through a process of editing and working toward a product that we could be proud of.”

What are your most popular flavors?

Crème Brûlée, Red Velvet Crème Brûlée, Seasonal Mimosa flavors, Savory Bagel, and Ube Velvet.

What makes your business different?

“Most doughnut shops offer a plant-based option or two, but our entire menu is 100% plant-based. All doughnuts are not created equal. And we make our doughs and glazes in small batches, along with our specialty cookie crumbs. Our doughnuts can’t be duplicated. We believe that’s how we’ve gained such a strong following, having such a unique product. Also, everything is created by chefs. We’re not bakers by trade, so our palates and profiles are different and go beyond the realm of sweets.”

Website | Instagram

The Art of Soap Making: Naked Bar Soap Co.

Opening Year: 2013

Owners: Natasha Byrd-Gaylon and Jennifer Peets

Address: 895 Fox Valley Dr. Suite 129, Longwood, Florida 32779

Hours of Operations: Must  pre-order ahead! Local pick-ups are available on select days in Longwood, Fla.; Online ordering with direct shipment to your doorstep is available

What makes your business different or unique?

“Naked Bar Soap Co. stands out from the competition with its commitment to crafting high-quality, all-natural soap bars in small artisanal batches. Products such as our Salt Soap Bars made with Himalayan pink salt or Dead Sea salt and enriched with nourishing coconut milk, offer a sensory experience unlike any other, providing customers with a personalized and eco-conscious skincare solution. We invite you to indulge in a sensual routine of daily self-care, mind, and body wellness.”

If someone was visiting Orlando North and wanted to pack up some of your best products to go home, what would you recommend?

“We recommend our artisanal soaps. These soaps are carefully crafted in small batches using a blend of high-quality ingredients, including olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter, and castor oil. What makes our soaps stand out are the premium additives we include, such as niacinamide, cacao, papaya extract, rose clay, French green clay, matcha tea, manuka honey, oats, and aloe. These ingredients not only provide effective cleansing but also offer nourishing and pampering benefits for your skin.”

Tell us about the art of soap making. Why is it that you chose to do this for a living?

“As a soap making company, we engage in the age-old craft blending science and creativity to create functional and aesthetically pleasing cleansing bars. At the core of our soap making process lies saponification, where we meticulously combine carefully selected fats or oils with an alkali, such as sodium hydroxide or lye, to produce soap and glycerin. We take pride in our choice of quality oils, including olive, coconut, palm, and shea butter, to achieve specific soap properties. We also infuse our soaps with essential oils, fragrances, colorants, and additives like herbs or clays to enhance both scent and aesthetics. Ensuring safety is paramount to us, and we take all necessary precautions when handling lye. We exclusively use the cold-process method, a traditional technique allowing us to create a wide range of unique, high-quality soap products by mixing the ingredients at lower temperatures, preserving the beneficial properties of the oils and butters. This method results in exceptional soap bars catering to individual preferences and needs.”

“We’ve chosen soap making as our livelihood because it resonates with our true passion. It’s about our love for beauty, captivating scents, and bath and body care products. Crafting soap isn’t just a job; it’s something we genuinely enjoy. We find satisfaction in creating products that enhance our customers’ daily routines. Our dedication to this craft comes from a deep appreciation for the art and science behind soap making. In essence, it’s our way of sharing our passion with others.”

What’s your most popular product?

“It’s a close tie between our artisanal soaps and our exquisite salt soap bars. These two product lines have captured the hearts of our customers for their unique qualities and luxurious experiences. Our artisanal soaps, handcrafted in small batches with a blend of premium ingredients, cater to those seeking an all-encompassing skincare routine. On the other hand, our salt soap bars, infused with Himalayan pink salt or Dead Sea salt and enriched with nourishing coconut milk, offer a spa-like indulgence that’s truly unparalleled.”

Website | Instagram

The Art of Cooking: Chef Ju’von’s Personal Chef Service

Opening Year: 2020

Owner: Chef Ju’von

Address: 1305 S. Park Ave. Sanford, FL 32771

Hours of Operations: Monday -Friday 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Sunday brunch – 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

What can people expect when visiting your brunch? How often do you host?

“When visiting us for brunch, you can expect outdoor seating, and it is highly recommended to pre-order your food. Your food will be ready upon arrival. You can also learn and converse with our two sommeliers, Devawn and Al, who are present and selling wine. It’s first come, first serve. However, we do have a reservation link that is highly recommended to use to book large parties.”

In what ways does art influence your cooking?

“Art is a big influence when it comes to our cooking. As a professional chef, I design our menus firstly by getting influences through color contrast and building flavor profiles. This may be through photos, inspirations, and more. The plate is our canvas to build on. Then to design the menu by words, they have to be descriptive through art because I know I want people to be able to eat and taste the food alone just by reading the food description.”

How can visitors and locals set up a cooking class?

“Just like all the services that we offer, cooking classes are a favorite of mine. If one is interested in setting up a cooking class either personal or a class, you can fill out an inquiry on our website and select Intimate Cooking Class. Then, you would receive an email to set up a consultation. For the cooking class, any number of guests are welcome. The thing I love most about our intimate cooking classes is that everyone gets their stove and basket of ingredients.  Cooking classes are $125 a person.”

Website | Instagram

Spotlight Wrap Up

As we wrap up our spotlights of these vibrant creators in Seminole County, let’s continue to support and celebrate Black-owned businesses throughout the year, not just during Black History Month. Whether it’s savoring the most delicious scratch-made doughnuts at Donut’ste Doughnuts or indulging in the sensory experiences of Naked Bar Soap Co., there’s no shortage of talent and creativity to discover right here in Orlando North. Take a piece of our community’s artistic wonders home with you and share the beauty with your friends and family. Let’s keep the momentum going and embrace the arts in all its forms every day! See you at Chef Ju’von’s brunch!

For more Black-Owned businesses to visit in Seminole County, check out this blog! Make sure to follow us on social media at @DoOrlandoNorth for more Orlando North travel inspiration!

About the Author:

Chauniqua Major is a creative based in Central Florida. She is the founder of Whatever’s Good, a PR and creative shop, and the creator behind Major’s Project Pop, a celebrated, organic and vegan popcorn company that ships nationwide. She contributes to outlets to write about food and culture.

Cover Photo via: Christina Petsos