Jon García (Bilbao, 1991) has four passions: aeronautical engineering, cooking, cheese and wine, mainly from Jerez. The first tried it working on it for several years, but left it because "you did not see your whole life in that world". The second was learned in specialized schools and in some of the most important restaurants in Spain. With the third, today he triumphs in Barcelona and with the fourth, he is on his way to it.
Success has come, indeed, from the hand of cheeses, but in the form of cakes. For just over two years, this aeronautical engineer is better known in Barcelona as Jon Cake (the name of his workshop) and for his coveted artisanal cheesecakes, which to get them are formed daily in the street queues of up to 45 minutes waiting ("in summer less"). The demand is such that its two workshops (one in El Born and another in the area of Les Corts) leave up to 1,500 pieces every week.
How do you go from working in the petrochemical sector to being a successful pastry chef in Barcelona? "I wanted to study hospitality, I really liked to cook, but my family, who had a restaurant in Bilbao, dissuaded me, so I did a little what I played and studied Aeronautical Engineering." He worked in several companies, but, although he liked it, in 2018 he decided to leave it. "I signed up for the Bellart Cooking and Pastry School in Barcelona, and then I was lucky enough to go through La Tasquería (Madrid), the Lera restaurant (Castroverde, Zamora), the Celler de Can Roca...", says Jon. And then, while he was at Casa Garras, in Vizcaya, he was caught by the pandemic and the confinement by municipalities in the autumn of 2020, and he returned to Barcelona where his parents lived.
There, first from home and then from the top floor of a bakery, she started selling cheesecakes to friends and acquaintances, until a friend's push on Instagram made her business take off. In a few months he goes from being just him making about 100 cakes a week, taking orders and distributing them, to opening his own workshop in May 2021 in the heart of the Born neighborhood (Assaonadors, 29). Since January of this year, it has a second location, Jon Cake & Wine (Gelabert, 42), a space with tables to taste in situ and in which to increase production and about 23 employees in total. "In the other place we run out of product almost every weekend. On a Saturday or Sunday you can sell up to 170 kg of cake, more or less." In this new store, in addition, the strong commitment is not only for pastries (other types of cakes and sweets are sold, in addition to cheese cakes), but also for Jon's fourth passion: wine.
What is it about Jon Cake cakes that attracts so many people? "The first thing, the cheese flavor, is the main ingredient," Jon says. For this they use any type, from a mixture of four cheeses, parmesan, gorgonzola, mascarpone and grana padano, for the classic cake, the one that sells the most, to idiazabal, cabrales, valdeón, San Simón, manchego ... "All these cakes are fixed and, in addition, every two weeks, we make a special of a different cheese." Up to 200 different cheeses, approximately, are used for Jon Cake cakes.
Another characteristic that differentiates them is that they are consumed at room temperature, so that they are creamier and the flavors feel much more. "If you eat a cold cheese from the fridge, you don't notice the taste; It's the same with the cake. The recommendation is to consume it the day they are made. They can be stored in the fridge and then tempered to eat," says Jon. This is one of the reasons why they are only sold in Barcelona and surroundings and are not shipped to the rest of Spain. "Orders can be placed on the web, and you have to pick them up at either store."
Cheesecake with wine?
Jon is passionate about wine and, almost by chance, has managed to link it to his cake business. "One day, a customer asked me in the store where there was a coffee shop to have the cheesecake he had just bought. Then I told her to please don't have coffee with her. If you eat a piece of cabrales cake, in the end you are eating cabrales cheese and nobody would think of mixing it with coffee. If you ask someone what a cheese board is good with, the logical thing is that they tell you that with wine. "
One of the tastings organized by Jon Cake paired with wine.
It was then, when in 2021 they began to do wine tastings with cheesecakes in different places, until they opened the aforementioned Jon Cake & Wine and opted to include a very powerful wine list to pair with the portions of cheesecakes. "It was made by the sommelier of the restaurant Compartir, so it is the menu that any gastronomic restaurant could have."
It has 70 references of wine, of which more than 20 are from Jerez, and 51 by the glass. "The idea was to make a wine and cake place." Jon assures that the concept is risky and, at the moment, there is not much public that launches into it. "People don't know him yet. I don't know any place in Spain dedicated to cakes and wines, but we have just signed a sommelier for the store and we think it will be easier to sell it well, "says Jon.
What is working well are the tastings that they organize every Wednesday in the premises behind closed doors for anyone who is interested. "Five types of cheesecake and five different wines are tasted by the hand of a sommelier" (registration on the web; price: about 40 euros).
For Jon, Sherry and sparkling wines are perfect to accompany his cheesecakes. "My favorite accompaniment to the blue cheesecake is a cream de Jerez, and for the classic cheesecake, a manzanilla en rama, it's amazing how well they match." The cake of San Simón, which is a smoked cheese, does very well, for example, a Valduero, from Ribera del Duero, "what happens is that it is not a pairing that we recommend often, because the glass is 12 euros. In addition, with red wine it is more difficult, because there is tannin, and it is an experience that is difficult to understand more. You also have to be careful that the cheesecake does not eat the wine, "ditches Jon.
For Jon, the best time to consume one of his cakes is in the afternoon with a glass of wine or even at vermouth time... "It's still sweet, but it works very well with wine."
Jon Cake: Assaonadors, 29, Barcelona; Tel. 933 00 08 92. Closed on Mondays.
Jon Cake & Wine: Gelabert, 42, Barcelona; Tel. 937 55 89 34. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Cakes of three sizes; small (13.50 euros); medium (24 euros), large (40 euros).
Servings: 7 euros; half portions, 4 euros.
Glass of wine, from 4.50 to 16 euros.
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