Lady Ray’s Culinary Delights in Destin is “more than a cake shop”
Need a wedding cake, birthday cake or just a cupcake? Lady Ray’s Culinary Delights has that and more.
Located just to the west of Target, at 833 Harbor Boulevard in Destin, Lady Ray’s offers “sweets and savory,” said Rachel Vondell, also known as Lady Ray.
Lady Ray’s, which opened Memorial weekend, is a joint venture between Rachel and her older brother, Tim.
“It’s a bakery, boutique and custom cake shop,” Tim said, noting the previous owner of the shop, Bake My Day, was known for custom cakes.
“We are trying to expand on that,” Tim said.
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Both from upstate New York, Tim moved to the area nine years ago, while his sister moved to Florida, but down south in the West Palm Beach area.
“We always wanted to open a restaurant,” Tim said.
And when the Bake My Day shop went up for sale, it was the perfect place for the two to open shop.
And although 80 percent of their business right now is baking cakes, "We're trying to show people it’s a lot more than a cake shop,” Tim said, noting they offer an all-day menu of breakfast and lunch items.
The café front is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, they do custom orders throughout the week from cakes to sandwich platters.
The lady behind the apron
Rachel, who picked up the nickname Ray at an early age, received her bachelor’s degree from Culinary Institute of America.
She started her journey with the Ritz Carlton in hotels from New York to New Orleans.
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“It was quite a culture change,” Rachel said, making the move to New Orleans.
From there she moved to Palm Beach County in south Florida, where she did mom and pop shops and privately owned places.
Then she went into event planning and started catering.
“I got to see all aspects of the industry … I really loved that,” Rachel said.
Then in 2020, COVID-19 swept across the country and people were no longer having large events.
“That got me free to go back into the kitchen, my first love. So, I went back into cooking and pastries,” she said.
And when big brother Tim, by four years, found the bake shop in Destin, “It was like all the stars lined up and I could move up here and be near family again. And go back into the world of pastries,” Rachel said.
And at Lady Ray’s, “we do a little bit of everything here. I don’t like to do anything in large batches, everything is small batch, handmade and in small quantity, very specific to the client. We can customize anything to the client,” she said.
Lady Ray all day menu
From croissants, cupcakes to avocado toast, it can all be found on the “all day menu.”
“You can get breakfast for lunch. She makes everything fresh … it’s all hand-built,” Tim said.
Lady Ray is known for her Croque Monsier, which is a grilled ham and cheese on sourdough with melted Swiss cheese on top.
“It’s phenomenal,” Tim said.
“We make it pretty hardy,” she said, noting it is stacked high.
Other items on the All-Day Menu include Avocado Toast, Acai Bowl or a Croque Jr., which is a grilled cheese on sourdough.
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Lady Ray’s also offers five varieties of cupcakes and three different croissants. The cupcakes include Classic Vanilla; 24 Carrot Cake, with pineapple and pecans with a cream cheese frosting; Chocolate Decadence, which is filled with chocolate mousse topped off with chocolate frosting; Pistachio, filled with a raspberry jam and topped with cream cheese frosting; and a Raspberry Cheesecake, with a raspberry cheesecake filling and cream cheese frosting.
“I don’t like to do anything plain … everything has a little play on it,” Rachel said.
As for the croissants, Lady Ray’s offers a traditional croissant, one with chocolate filling and chocolate butter cream on top, and then a seasoned croissant with Crazy Ed seasoning from upstate New York.
Plus, they have baguettes and sour dough available as well.
Lady Ray’s also offers lattes and specialty drinks as well as cookies and coconut macaroons made into a tropical boom, a takeoff on Key Lime pie.
“There’s been a lot of recipe testing,” she said.
“And there is stuff here for everybody,” Tim said, noting they even have Lady Ray clothing, Crazy Ed spices, protein bars, coolers and even sun screen.
Lady Ray on the move
Right now, the café front is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But as they build their team, they hope to add more days.
“Nirvana for us will be to have the store front open five days a week. Once we are fully built out, we will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday,” Tim said.
This is the first “brick and mortar” adventure for the two siblings together.
In 2014 they started a small batch ice cream brand and did a little side gig down south, Tim said.
But Lady Ray’s in Destin is their first “store front.”
“I felt like it was fated for us to do this ... it’s just the right size,” Tim said, noting they hope to keep it going and open another shop in Miramar Beach or Santa Rosa Beach in the future.
“But it’s not easy, you can’t just throw someone in the kitchen and say 'go make baked goods,'” Tim said.
In the short time they have been open, Rachel says they’ve been very busy, noting they are booked out three and four weeks with cakes.
However, she said, they can accommodate some last-minute things.
“We don’t want to push out something that’s not to our standard,” Tim said.
Lady Ray’s delivers from the Destin bridge to the Clyde B. Wells 331 Bridge in Walton County.
"We will deliver ... from kids' birthday to wedding cakes and everything in between. We're set up to do it all,” Tim said.
For custom orders, Lady Ray’s has a form that patrons can fill out online by going to https://lady-rays-culinary-delights.myshopify.com.
“It’s fun and exciting designing,” Rachel said of the many baked goods.
“This is the baby of it all … it would be awesome to see this grow,” she said.