As the owner and Chief Baking Officer of Portland’s coveted Saint Cupcake, Jami Curl feeds her lifelong passion for baking by serving up made-from-scratch sweet and savory delights to countless customers every day. And while everything from the cupcakes and cookies to the breads and bun to the savory tarts and seasonal salads is worth writing home about, it’s the story behind Saint Cupcake that – like the homemade, signature hot chocolate served daily – warms the soul from the inside out.
East of Cleveland in the small Lake Erie town of Geneva, Ohio, lived food-curious Jami Curl. Whereas most children remember their first trip to Disneyworld or to the zoo for what they saw, Jami fondly recalls each childhood memory based on what she ate. Her father taught her to sear tuna and make ceviche before most could even pronounce it while her beloved Gramma Dot, the baker of the family, instilled in Jami an early love for the craft. Jami can still taste the out-of-this-world Pumpkin Cake she whipped up alongside Gramma at age five, unforgettable moments that later served as the inspiration for Saint Cupcake.
Desperate to break into the food industry, 12-year-old Jami began her career with a summer job as an ice cream scooper at the Geneva Dairy D’Lite and then spent five years manning the ice cream station at Eddie’s Grill. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in 1997 with a double major in Theatre and English. After quickly realizing the typical desk job was just not her style, she became a Stage Manager for local productions and brought freshly baked treats for the cast and crew during rehearsals. Having made a pact with a friend from high school to move somewhere after college, Jami packed up the car and settled in Portland, Ore., in 1997 after reading a travel feature her hometown paper (The Ashtabula Star Beacon) that noted Portland was “a city raised on coffee, beer and books.” Perfection, thought Jami.
In love with the city and its food from day one, Jami worked for seven years in marketing at an engineering firm and then at the Oregon State Bar but started a small baking business on the side called Cook & Clutter (her grandmothers’ maiden names). Married in 2003, Jami met her husband, Matt, at a gig his band was performing in Portland. While pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration, Jami made a promise to herself: open her dream bakery by her 30th birthday. And, in November 2005, just a few months after turning 30, Jami opened the doors to Saint Cupcake with a tasty selection of baked goods including many of Gramma Dot’s specialties. The business has since quadrupled, and Gramma Dot still helps to inspire many of the delectable offerings.
While you’ll never see her using cooking spray (there’s nothing she detests more), Jami simply couldn’t live without her French rolling pin, bench scraper and parchment paper. Her sweet weakness: any kind of cookie (especially the alder-smoked chocolate chip cookies). Her savory weakness: cheese, cheese and more cheese. In her limited spare time, Jami attends as many Radiohead concerts as possible and loves reading all types of books. She has an ever-growing collection of some 800 cookbooks organized alphabetically and categorically in her home office.
Jami and Matt have one son, Theo, and five cherished rescue animals: three dogs (Olive, Dill and Mister Waffles) and two cats (Fran and Luther).