Table Talk: Baking the cute way with Ooyoo Pan's owners

San Antonio's Ooyoo Pan offers its specialties at indie-product retailer R+R Collective Co. and through wholesaling and pop-ups.

click to enlarge Ooyoo Pan's name is a combination of the Korean and Spanish words for milk and bread. - Instagram / ooyoopan
Instagram / ooyoopan
Ooyoo Pan's name is a combination of the Korean and Spanish words for milk and bread.

Name:  Nari and Aldo Cortes

Title:  Bakers, co-owners at Ooyoo Pan

Birthplace: Texas and Mexico

Where to get their products: R+R Collective Co., 1010 S. Flores St. #123

Ooyoo Pan, founded by Nari and Aldo Cortes, started as a hobby as the couple shared their love for Mexican and Korean childhood snacks on an Instagram page. But what started as a simple online document of their baking efforts grew into a flourishing business.

Through hours of practice and research, the couple honed their skills and began accepting custom orders from family and friends. However, it wasn't until local Instagram influencer SA Foodie showcased their products that business exploded, forcing the pair to purchase another fridge and move into a commercial kitchen.

Now, Ooyoo Pan offers its specialties at indie-product retailer R+R Collective Co. and through wholesaling and pop-ups. The name, a combination of Korean and Spanish words for milk and bread, perfectly captures the fusion of flavors found in the baked goods. We caught up with the Corteses to discuss their passion for baking.

Over the past four years, can you describe how important social media has been for the success of Ooyoo Pan?

SA Foodie (Amanda Spencer) really kickstarted our business, and we were not expecting to grow as much as we did from that one post she shared of our baked goods. Since we don't have a brick and mortar that people can just google, I think it's especially important to be using social media as best as we can as a pop-up business so people can know where to find us next. We've been using our Instagram to announce our pop-up locations [and make updates]. People have been so supportive and would share these posts as well as upload stories/pictures of what we had available at our pop up that day.

Ooyoo Pan is known for cute and trendy desserts from Korea. Can you tell me a bit about flavors that are unique to your offerings?

It's more of the flavors and the aesthetic of the treats that remind me of my childhood. Almost every cafe I would go to had desserts that had cute faces drawn on them or even ears to make it look like a bear or dog. Some of these flavors include, but aren't limited to injeolmi (roasted soy bean powder), yuja (similar to lemon) and gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes). We're hoping to [introduce] more "traditional" desserts like bingsu, twisted donuts and yakgwa in the future now that we have a steady location at R+R Collective Co.

Your offerings are intricate. What is your process like, from initial idea to the creation of a pastry? Do you usually develop a concept for a treat before you find the "canvas" or vice versa?

I'll pick a theme — Ghibli, Sanrio, etc. — and simplify the characters to fit our style and the desserts. I'll sketch, make a color palette, then make or print a macaron template all on my iPad before getting started in the kitchen. It can be challenging to fit all the details on a macaron, which is why I'll spend hours researching and sketching out variations of which designs will work the best. I'm always planning months in advance and experimenting with new treats.

What's been the most rewarding part of operating Ooyoo Pan?

We will say that the most rewarding part of operating Ooyoo Pan is the interactions and joy we see from the customers. It always amazes us that people would make time out of their day to come see us and try out treats.

What's been the least?

We are a micro bakery that makes everything from scratch and uses quality ingredients. Our goal has always been to keep our prices fair to customers and to us as well. Wanting to try new recipes can be challenging, as some ingredients that we'd like to use are costly and not the most accessible to us. Raising the prices on some of our baked goods has been the most difficult thing to do.

Do you dream of having a brick-and-mortar space dedicated to Ooyoo Pan?

We used to dream of having a brick-and-mortar space, but we feel we are in a good place having a steady location at R+R Collective Co., wholesaling to a couple cafes and popping up once or twice a month.

How do you spend your time when you're away from the oven?

Aldo and I usually go to local coffee shops and spend time with our dog Donut when we have some free time.

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