For many children growing up, helping in the kitchen meant assisting their mothers, grandmothers or fathers slice the peppers, chop the tomatoes and taste test the food when it was ready, which is arguably the best part.
Houston native Vaughn F. Moore, a ninth-generation Creole, enjoyed the same quality time with his mother. Helping wherever help was needed — especially during the taste testing. Here is where his love of baking developed.
But his decision to create his own company based on this love came at a much later stage of his life.
”I moved to New York in 1988 after leaving college in Southern California to pursue a career in modeling and the music industry,” Moore said. “[In 2005] I made a choice to return to the Houston area to look after the physical estate of my mother after hearing she had fallen ill.”
Once her health improved Moore asked for her blessing to move back to New York, and, while she was unenthusiastic about his decision, she agreed. Rather than return to a “shifty” and “unstable” job market, Moore decided to create a catering service that would eventually take him to the White House: Mere Viola’s Sweet Delights.
Unlike most others in his field of work, Moore is a completely self-taught cake artisan and developed much of his skill and techniques in only a few years.
The name “Mere Viola’s” translated from French means Mother Viola — the first name of his great-grandmother, Viola Verret-Jones and the middle name of his mother, Mary Viola.
“The name in and of itself is a celebration of matriarchs, their dreams, tragedies and triumphs.” Moore said.
The catering company, which specializes in New Orleans cuisine, offers a broad range of sweets and delicacies, with creativity in every bite. This is mostly shown in his couture cake designs — one of which landed him a spot on the menu for one of the balls in Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration.
“Creating this particular cake was an epiphany in my career of cake decorating. I think I worked for a period of about two weeks at my place in NYC, prior to the ball, on hand-sculpted pieces [of] sugar-paste figurines of Barack and Michelle, the Oval office desk, etc.,” Moore said. “I was afforded an opportunity to be a part of history and to meet amazing people in the process.”
Customers of Mere Violas begin with a consultation, where they are able to discuss design elements for cakes they hope to receive. Then Moore, who has a history in fine arts, sketches possible designs as a way for customers to visualize their cakes before he transforms ideas into a delicious reality.
Mere Violas, catering to the New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the Washington D.C. area, is currently working to mass market two products from its signature line of desserts the Cosmopolitan Macaroons — available in 21 different flavors — and Gotham Tea Biscuits.
The company also is working to supply treats to large retail chains, as well as starting an e-store to supply ship-able products. Moore plans to expand beyond pastries and partner with local farms as a way to produce fresh organic-based meats and vegetables.
Moore attributes his business success to applying five factors: attention to detail, imagination, persistence, work ethic, educating oneself to continuously perfect your craft.
“The advice I would offer to anyone trying his or her hand at entrepreneurship is be prepared to work, sacrifice and persevere,” Moore said. “If hard work, discipline and dedication are not your forté, then being a business owner is the wrong move for you.”
Order forms for cakes and other delicacies are available at the Mere Viola’s website