The newest bakery on the block, SLO Delicious, is more than a sweet shop, according Michael Martineau, owner and self-described chief taste tester. It's a happy marriage of both sweet and savory products, with a full breakfast and lunch menu.
In addition to handmade pastries such as cookies, cupcakes, and muffins, customers can order everything from croissant sandwiches and frittata to tuna salad, avocado toast, and even chicken breast with wild rice.
- Photos Courtesy Of Slo Delicious
- ON A ROLL Owner Michael Martineau, left, and chef Gonzalo Huerta celebrated the soft opening of SLO Delicious on June 30. Stay tuned for details on its upcoming ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Chef and managing business partner Gonzalo Huerta constantly shakes things up, whether making a savory scone with basil and lemon for vegan, gluten-free clients, or whipping up custom cakes or truffles for special occasions.
"I love cooking," Huerta said. "I grew up helping my mom make meals for 10 kids."
When he left Mexico for California, it wasn't long before he ended up in the kitchen again, ultimately landing the bakery manager position at Whole Foods in Santa Barbara.
He was lured to San Luis Obispo in early 2021 by friend Martineau, who had left a corporate job in Ventura nearly two years prior to scout a location for a future wine, cheese, and chocolate shop.
When COVID-19 hit, Martineau's plans were temporarily sidelined until a fateful visit from Huerta. While tasting through the food vendor stalls at the downtown farmers' market, they had a craving for dessert. The two were not satisfied with their options.
Huerta suggested to Martineau that he scrap his plans for a wine, cheese, and chocolate shop and instead open a bakery.
But while Martineau has hospitality, marketing, and project management experience, he doesn't bake. That's Huerta's specialty.
The seed was planted, then Martineau found the perfect spot—a nearly 700-square-foot space on Garden Street formerly occupied by cheese shop Fromagerie Sophie. He spent much of 2020 and early 2021 remodeling the shop, then recruited Huerta and announced its soft opening in June.
Hiring sufficient help has been a challenge, but Martineau and Huerta are flattered by the steady business.
"We couldn't even have imagined that we would be so embraced by the local community," Martineau said. "Neighboring businesses in general have just been super supportive, and we're already building a regular client base, which is really amazing since we've only been in business for a month now."
- Photo Courtesy Of Cooking With A Side Of Sunshine
- TASTE TEST Food blogger Nancy Waltz visited SLO Delicious on July 31 and sampled the Kahlua truffle with white chocolate drizzle, peanut butter dark chocolate truffle, and mini lemon curd meringue tart.
Nancy Waltz of Grover Beach, who publishes the blog Cooking with a Side of Sunshine, visited the shop recently and met with Martineau.
Waltz took her own taste test with the following results—the truffles are amazing if you're into chocolate, she said, but the mini lemon tart stole her heart.
"The Kahlua truffle features a hand-dipped chocolate outer shell with a white chocolate drizzle, and soft, ganache-filled center," Waltz said. "It subtly introduces the warm tones of Kahlua as it melts in your mouth."
She also appreciated "the delicate balance of flavors" with the peanut butter dark chocolate truffle.
However, Waltz was even more impressed with the lemon tart: "It was the perfect bite size. The lemon curd filling was bright and citrusy, with just the right amount of tang vs. sweet. The homemade meringue and fresh berry garnish made for a beautiful presentation."
Huerta is first and foremost a chocolate connoisseur, with more than 17 years of chocolate-making and cake-decorating classes under his belt. He fine-tuned his skills at bakeries in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara before partnering with Martineau to open SLO Delicious on June 30.
"I love it," Huerta said. "I get up and I go to work, doing what I love to do, and every time that I make something and I see [a customer] smile, or I hear a comment about what I made, it gives me more energy and more passion to keep creating new [items]."
- Photos Courtesy Of Slo Delicious
- IT'S A CAKEWALK Chef Gonzalo Huerta creates cakes for all occasions, as well as special-order truffles with customized flavors.
Martineau says the company uses pure ingredients, sourced locally when possible. For their coffee drinks, they purchase organic beans from Joebella Roasters in Atascadero. Nearly all menu items are made from scratch.
"That was one of G's [Gonzalo's] requirements," Martineau said. "He didn't want to just get something from a commercial bakery and put it in our shop and sell it. He wanted to make everything himself."
Huerta, who loves everything chocolate—"the darker, the better," he adds—particularly labors over his signature truffles.
They take two days to make, he explains.
"I make the mix one day, let it sit overnight in the fridge, then roll and dip the truffles," he said. "I can roll 300 truffles in less than an hour."
"They are so pure," Martineau added. "They have no preservatives and no additives, just pure chocolate, cream, and whatever the flavoring is that G's adding, such as Kahlua or peanut butter."
Huerta heats the whipping cream to about 110 to 120 degrees, melts the chocolate, then combines the two primary ingredients. "I mix them up really well, and slowly, without making any air bubbles, then the next day, I hand roll and dip them in 75-percent bittersweet dark chocolate," he said. "So what you get on the outside is a crunch of the bittersweet chocolate, and inside you get the sweetness of the truffle flavor."
SLO Delicious is a labor of love for both Martineau and Huerta. For Huerta in particular, it never gets old.
"Even if I work 16 hours straight, I still come home and want to cook something," he said. Δ
Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte agrees that chocolate is best served dark. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.