Crawfish King Cake draws customers to Daphne from near and far

By Melanie LeCroy
Lifestyle Editor
Posted 2/4/22

Laura Stafford and business partner Barbara Sylkatis have a small crew of devoted employees at Gourmet Goodies who churn out everything from soups and casseroles to custom cakes and cookies. The …

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Crawfish King Cake draws customers to Daphne from near and far


Laura Stafford and business partner Barbara Sylkatis have a small crew of devoted employees at Gourmet Goodies who churn out everything from soups and casseroles to custom cakes and cookies. The business has a strong local following, but their crawfish King Cake has people traveling from Pensacola and Mobile to their Daphne location.

"I saw an article about a boudin King Cake and I don't like it, but I was thinking that a crawfish stuffing would be good. We tried it and it was delicious. So, we posted it and the madness began," Stafford said.

The demand for the Gourmet Goodies' sweet and savory King Cakes has been so great they are staggering pick up days to allow more time for prep. In one week, they are averaging 50 King Cakes along with their usual menu items. People have driven from Pensacola and Mobile to purchase the savory King Cake.

The crawfish stuffing is a combination of cornbread, crawfish, crab, onion, bell pepper, celery, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and dash a spice. Sylkatis rolls out the dough and slathers it with melted butter before adding the crawfish mixture. The King Cake is rolled up and left to rise for 45 minutes before being baked to a golden-brown. The crawfish King Cake comes with a container of creamy crawfish gravy.

"We do other stuff as well like specialty cookies, pies, cakes and catering. We have an extensive menu and then you throw something crazy that hits like this King Cake. I have a pot that I can make 13 gallons of chicken and dumplings in at one time. I have had to make chicken and dumplings eight days in a row to keep up with the demand. I don't know what is going on with dumplings and King Cakes but I thank Jesus for it," Stafford laughed.

Gourmet Goodies has been in business for four years and is a result of 20 years of side hustling. Stafford grew up in Baldwin County and left to study children's ministry after high school. She worked in the ministry for years while raising her adopted son. As a single parent she always had some type of side business to bolster her income.

Her first side business was the result of a fundraiser for her church youth program. In order to raise money to take the children to Disney World she made gourmet apples for the children to sell. The group sold $20,000 worth of apples and she took 50 children to Disney World. The requests to purchase apples continued. The next fundraiser she opted to hold a cake auction. While she could bake a cake, she had never decorated one. She taught herself using YouTube videos and after the auction the request for cakes continued.

The final step came from cooking for the church's Dream Center. Stafford would cook a meal and the group would go into housing projects to feed and minister to the residents. People began asking her if she catered or sold her casseroles. She has been cooking for others ever since.

Gourmet Goodies rented space at the Coastal Café for four years. Each year the customer base grew. Before the pandemic, Stafford had plans to renovate a farmhouse, located on the corner of Highway 64 and Friendship Road, to become a restaurant and new home of Gourmet Goodies. Unfortunately, the onset of the pandemic and the arrival of Hurricane Sally postponed the renovation and left her scrambling to find a location.

"It got to the point where we couldn't keep up and we were out of space. I needed to be able to hire more staff," Stafford said. "I scrambled and did a lot of praying and this was the only facility in Baldwin County that was available. The previous tenant moved out on a Friday, and we started renovating that Monday. We hit the ground running. We planned to close for two weeks and then hold a soft launch. We have not had time. We were in here painting, and I had customers coming to the door asking if we had any casseroles," Stafford laughed.

Needless to say, there was no soft launch for the new Gourmet Goodies. The business was back to full operation as soon as the renovation was complete. Months later they are still waiting to finish the bakery case and build a wall to hide the kitchen. Stafford has people working on things after hours so the business can continue to run.

A restaurant is still in the plans, but she is in no hurry. The restaurant, The Belle, will feature breakfast, lunch and occasional fine dining dinners. The menu will include family recipes from Stafford and Sylkatis. Stafford said they will mirror The Belle after the southern belles who have paved the way for them and taught them about hospitality and cooking. Southern hospitality is bountiful at Gourmet Goodies and it is passed to every customer that walks in the door.

"I love getting to meet people, find out their story and I want them to have a great experience when they come here. I want them to leave thinking the people here genuinely care and they love what they do. That is it in a nutshell. Our customers are like family. I have gotten to do girls wedding cakes and then their babies' first cake. That to me is important. I want to be part of those special times in people's lives and this is one of the greatest opportunities to do that. We are creating things that spark memories," Stafford said.