Andrea Lekberg is the owner and pastry chef at The Artist Baker, located in Morristown, NJ, and was introduced to CFBNJ by our longtime board member Alan Levitan. Andrea’s first engagement with CFBNJ started in 2019 as one of our featured chefs at Chefs Tableside Dinner. She has since been our super advocate and champion, hosting events to help advance CFBNJ’s mission in our local communities.
Last year, Andrea spearheaded the Bake for Good campaign benefiting CFBNJ by rallying her fellow bakers (including Cocoluxe Fine Pastries, The Baker’s Grove, Three Daughters Baking Co., and Verrilli’s Bakery) to address food insecurity. The campaign raised the equivalent of over 16,500 meals for our hungry neighbors.
An Interview with Andrea Lekberg
- Tell us about your background in the food industry— what inspired you to start a bakery, and how was the journey getting to where you are now?
My first job at 15 years old was at a Big Boy diner outside of Chicago. I worked in food prep and helped take care of the salad bar. I liked then the diversity of people all working together. It wasn’t anyone’s dream- but we were all there to work and that is what we shared and did well. I have worked in kitchens all over the country over the years and I love the work. I wanted to learn the business side of the industry, so I opened my own business. I went through the EPI program at Rutgers and it was very helpful and inspiring. As for where I am now, it has been organic. The business has become what it needed to be to survive, and the individuals and communities around have helped in that process, including CFBNJ.
- How has your outlook on food changed by owning a bakery?
I still love ingredients, the simpler the better. I can’t stomach how industrialized our food system is. People don’t know what they are eating and or why. I’m always thankful for people who work in the food industry, especially the fields and the kitchens. I want people handling my food, preparing and cooking it to be paid well. Again, it’s probably not a dream of theirs, but it is work that needs to be done well and we need to provide good working opportunities and workplaces for this.
- In your experience, what have been the benefits of hosting a fundraiser? What should other businesses know about supporting their charity of choice?
Hosting a fundraiser helped me connect with my local customers and business community. It helped my network grow for future fundraising and other events. And your local customers and business appreciate you taking this on. When you focus on a charity, it is a building block for your business.
- What led you to choose to partner with CFBNJ specifically?
The thought of people, especially children, not being able to have a healthy meal on a regular basis feels like a huge society failure. When I think of public health, healthy food has to be available to all. CFBNJ is one part of how I see our responsibility to public health.
- How does partnering with CFBNJ through Neighbors Helping Neighbors impact the notion of “community” surrounding your bakery and other bakers in our state?
Partnering with CFBNJ impacts my business strongly and helps build my foundation to support others in our local and larger communities.