Philanthropist, innovator and entrepreneur Amanda Mack. (Courtesy Photo)
By Beverly Richards
Special to the AFRO
Philanthropist, innovator and entrepreneur Amanda Mack has spent years fighting for food equity and access. She has worked on projects with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to promote healthy eating. “I even wrote a children’s book with my son, to teach him about the origin and nutritional value of fresh fruits and vegetables titled Greens Don’t Grow in Cans.”
But her professional career started with a stint in commercial America with “one of those jobs that pay well.” But she wanted to do something that made her feel more connected to her people. “I wanted to work with a purpose,” she said.
Amanda left the corporate rat race and started working as a chef at Dovecote Café in Reservoir Hill. “Their values aligned with mine.” The longer she worked there the more excited she became about the possibility of opening her own business. “I wanted to start my own thing, my own bakery.”
So, she and her husband, Jarrod, opened Crust by Mack, during the pandemic. Located in the Whitehall Food Market in Hampden, her pastry and baked goods repertoire includes the classic cookies, brownies and tarts, “We are known for the crab pie. It’s very Baltimore. It is our flaky crust.” Southern treats are her favorite to re-create. “I like to make dishes that are inspired by my ancestors,” she said proudly. However, Crust by Mack’s signature pastry is the Birthday Crust, mixed fruit and wild berry preserves inside a specially crafted pastry. Amanda described it as, “a party in your mouth.”
What sets Crust by Mack apart from their competitors is the mission. “We’re not just a bakery where waking up and thinking pastries is the only thing on our minds. We wanted to make sure we were built on entrepreneurial equity. We wanted to give back to different organizations,” said the young impresario. “We found this business on helping others. It’s not just about us. We are here to be of service to our community,” she explained. Amanda launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for struggling entrepreneurs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of their customers have come by word-of-mouth. “People come here because they’ve heard about something we did for other people and not necessarily for the bakery,” she shared. But once they get a taste of their wares it’s a wrap.
Always looking towards the future, there is a “next step” for Amanda and Jarrod. They are opening a venue, specifically geared towards Black creatives and entrepreneurs, to host events and market their brands at an affordable rate. “Because at a lot of venues here you must use their preferred vendors and their preferred caterers. All those things come with a tag that prices most, especially Black people, out of the venue. So, we wanted to create a space that was beautiful and elegant—because we deserve those things.” Amanda is also considering writing cookbooks, developing recipes, continuing to raise more funds for the community and partnering with other organizations.
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