In a lovely essay titled "Never Can Say Goodbye," last week author and food entrepreneur Steven Gdula laid out his decision to end his Gobba Gobba Hey baking business after 33 months. Born on the streets of the Mission District in 2009, Gobba Gobba Hey sold "gobs," a "cake-like confection" (Gdula's words) that were often mistaken for whoopie pies, off a tray. Back home in Pennsylvania, gobs were almost always of a chocolate variety, filled with plain buttercream, but Gdula utilized the bounty of California produce to create flavors like pistachio orange and lemon thyme.
Gdula was inspired by emerging street food mavens like the Magic Curry Cart and the Crème Brûlée Cart (owned by brothers Brian and Curtis Kimball), and quickly became a peer. Within months, he had his permits and was working full swing in a commercial kitchen, baking for street food functions and corporate events. Not only did he beguile Bay Area customers, he convinced Bloomsbury USA to give him a cookbook contract. In Gobba Gobba Hey, published in August, Gdula shared his secrets for cakes, syrups, and other fillings.
While the Kimball brothers continue to grow their businesses, many of Gdula's colleagues in food cartery have collapsed their folding tables in favor of steadier work. But others have channeled their creativity into related works. Gdula's friend Natalie Galatzer, for example, recently retired her Bike Basket Pies business, but not before self-publishing a booklet of her most popular recipes. These two works are lovely examples of how this scene thrives on imagination and adaptability.
Today, Gdula has traded the oven mitts for his trusted pen. Sad as we are about Gobba Gobba Hey's curtain call as a food business, his cookbook is a lasting testament to the power of dreaming — and a neat crib sheet from which to try to re-create the magic.