Imagine a food truck operated by the folks at Six Feet Under — or maybe Tim Burton, or Evelyn Waugh. (You pick.) This is probably the best way to describe Deb Dawson's mobile catering company, Desserts to Die For, which the Ventura-based baker operates out of the back of a 1967 Cadillac hearse.
Dawson started her baking business after retiring from a 33-year career with the U.S. Postal Service. The San Fernando Valley native says she grew up with the Helm's Bakery trucks, and imagined her hearse as a kind of spooky version of the old trucks, albeit with pastries instead of loaves of bread. So Dawson got her cottage food license, found a hearse on eBay, started baking rustic pies and ta-da.
But Dawson's near-fifty-year-old hearse is not in the greatest shape, and she says she's staring a Kickstarter to save the vehicle — and her business along with it.
Dawson's hearse, technically a Cadillac Superior Three-Way Sovereign Coach that the baker found in San Diego in 2001 and drove home to Ventura, is not a quick-fix. “As the hearse gets worse and worse, I'm not sure if I can prevent it from rusting away. So I finally gave in and decided to seek outside help,” says Dawson. “The goal seems high, but on an old hearse like this, just the windshield is upwards of $1,800.”
Dawson's Kickstarter goal is $20,000 and she has under a month to raise it. But hey, it's just in time for Halloween, so we thought we'd help her get the word out.
Dawson has been baking for a quarter of a century, a skill she learned first from her English mother and then with inspiration from her local baking heroines. According to Dawson, that list started with Nancy Silverton — as it so often does — and then grew to include Sumi Chang, Roxana Jullapat and Zoe Nathan. Dawson says she has no regular menu for Desserts to Die For, but favors rustic pastries, fruit-based pies, and desserts with chocolate and nuts. All that's what you see in the back of the hearse, by the way; nothing too Halloween-y, at least not yet.
For more information on Dawson's Kickstarter, check out this video. And for more on Desserts to Die For itself, go to her Facebook page.