By Hannah Richardson
Although Mardi Gras will be celebrated a little differently this year due to the ongoing pandemic, fans of the festival season can still enjoy one staple- King Cake! This delicacy is traditionally eaten on Twelfth Night, which marks the arrival of the three wise men who delivered gifts to the newborn Jesus- hence, the plastic baby baked inside. The cakes are eaten throughout the season until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Usually, those that partake in these traditions abstain from pleasures such as cake, so get your fill of King Cake before then!
Meet a local king cake creator: Joshua Hippler, who has been a resident of Natchitoches for several years. Prior to that, he lived in the Washington DC area for nine years before relocating to Atlanta, Ga., for about three. Although he relocated in 2003 to DC, he is originally from the Robeline area and graduated from Many High School in 2002. Hippler’s family lives on Toledo Bend Lake near Zwolle and Negreet and has a brother that resides in Belmont.
As a chef, Hippler works at the Pioneer Pub on Front Street and the Legacy Café on North Street in the city. He was previously the culinary instructor for the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center and the head baker at French Market Express for a couple of years.
He has been baking since he was a young child alongside his grandmother. “She contracted Polio in a swimming pool while visiting my grandfather who was working on a pipeline. This disease rendered her with a serious mobility challenge.” said Hippler. “So instead of going outside or shopping each day after school she and I would either cook or bake something… usually bake. Those times are memories I have come to cherish greatly. Although she has since passed I continue to rely on her instructions and guidance that she provided many years ago. Later of course I attended culinary school but the most important lessons I learned were from my grandmothers wisdom. She was a phenomenal baker.”
Hippler’s king cakes vary from the basic traditional to the more modern-filled. “I do sell some of the king cakes that I make to Facebook friends, etc. It can be a nice supplement to my income given the lack of business that January tends to bring to this area as it relates to the food service industry especially now with the COVID concerns.”