By Roselle Chen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Allie Chernick, the 27-year-old photo editor-turned-baker behind Allie's Banana Bread, makes 500 banana bread loaves a week - and sells out within minutes.
"At the most 2 minutes, but usually, less than a minute," she said from her commercial kitchen in downtown Manhattan. "It's pretty crazy."
Chernick had been baking banana bread for years using her grandmother's recipe, and would make it for friends in college.
"Everyone would freak out and be like, 'This is the best, can I have the recipe?' And because I always thought I was going to start a business with it, I kind of said, 'No, I don't want to give them it, I'll just make them one'," she said.
Chernick created an Instagram account for her creations because she was getting so many orders through word of mouth that she couldn't keep track just through texting. She did further testing of the sales of her banana bread through a Brooklyn market in December 2019.
"It was insane," she said. "It sold out. It was great. And that's kind of when I started to take it a little bit more seriously."
Chernick rented a commercial kitchen. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit a little more than a year ago, forcing her kitchen to close temporarily.
"I kind of had to stop things for a little bit," she said. "But it was still my side job, so it was not a big deal."
Once the kitchen reopened four months later in the summer, Chernick's Instagram account had "blown up a lot more at that point," she said. "And I was getting so many orders that I could finally quit my job and do this full-time."
Chernick left her job as a photo editor for clothing maker Ralph Lauren in September.
Of her 500 weekly loaves, 300 currently go to a market on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side and 200 for delivery nationwide.
Her photos of the sweets, some dripping with chocolate and maple syrup, get posted to Instagram each week.
"I never really thought that I'd be just baking banana bread every day and that would be it, but that's kind of what it is," she said. "I like to make people happy and I like to watch people eat things that I made and watch them love it. It's very homey and it tastes very homemade and I just hope it reminds them of being cozy and happy."
(Reporting by Roselle Chen; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)