Meet The Maker


Meet Lindsay Gott, Founder of Gâteaux

November 8, 2023  |   by Trev True

Lindsay Gott in chef attire

Tell us about yourself.

My path to the food world began in San Francisco. I grew up in Pittsburgh with iceberg lettuce and typical 70s convenience foods. When I moved to the Bay Area for my first job out of college, it opened up a world of fresh, local ingredients and a quality and creativity standard that I had never experienced. It inspired me to leave my advertising career and attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I was an international studies major at university and had intended to find my way to international business or diplomacy but I was completely taken by the intensity, joy, and precision in the craft of food, especially pastry.

When and why did you start GÂTEAUX?

I had sold my gourmet delicatessen when my child came along, knowing I couldn’t do both well. I went back to my corporate roots, looking for predictability and stability. While that job was practical while she was little, it was not very rewarding.

My father was an entrepreneur and I guess I caught the bug. I knew I wanted to create a product that could be enjoyed by many. And I always have believed in making excellent food accessible and convenient.

Frozen products intrigued me for their convenience, but when I started snooping around frozen dessert aisles, I was shocked at how old-school and poor-quality the offerings were. It just hadn’t kept up with the food revolution we have seen in other categories. I knew there was an opportunity to create a product that was convenient without compromising flavor or a clean label.

When I lived in France there was this popular grocery store there that blew my mind; it was entirely frozen foods. In France, where the standard of quality is so high! And none of the products were full of preservatives, flavorings, and cheap oils like they are here. I knew it was possible to change people’s minds—even the sticklers—about frozen foods.

I made the leap, sold off and insurance policy got to work installing a little commercial kitchen in my garage. It was complete in March 2020. I had to pivot on my original idea of providing products to cafés and restaurants and just started experimenting and selling at our local farmers market. It turned out to be the best thing ever as people were craving exactly what I wanted to offer: delicious, convenient—and comforting—foods. We were making all kinds of frozen goodies: galettes and cookies, plus cinnamon rolls, and even quiche; people were lining up. I honestly don’t remember the moment that I thought about doing take-and-bake cakes. It was one of those creative whims. But we sold out the first market we introduced them.

Gateaux workers in aprons and masks

I had a hard time choosing which product to launch with—I loved them all. But I have always adored cakes. I think they make people feel really special when you make one for them. I decided that was the one.

sunset on a lake with mountains

Where do you make your cakes and cookies?

We are based in Hood River, Oregon. It’s a small town in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, about an hour drive from Portland. Some people call us “Portland’s Playground.” I moved here twenty years ago from San Francisco.

After an enthusiastic launch of Gâteaux at The Good Food Mercantile tradeshow, we made another leap and built out a proper facility so we could scale up. We call it “The Cakery,” since we don’t actually bake.

How do you source your ingredients?

Besides all the amazing French technique I learned at Le Cordon Bleu, a very important lesson was “garbage in, garbage out.” It’s a pillar of French cuisine, whether cooking at home or at a Michelin 3-star restaurant. We make our cakes with premium, fresh, local ingredients, and that reflects in their flavor.

We rely on a relationship with a specialty purveyor here in Portland that provides us with local, premium dairy, cage-free eggs, and PNW flours, Hawaiian cane sugars, and all the European specialty brands like Valrhona cocoa powder and Nielsen-Massey vanilla. They bring us the finest goods available every week.

apricot almond tortes
Gateaux employees in aprons smiling with their food

What has been your biggest challenge along the way?

There are many, but the thing that can cause me the greatest stress is trying to spin all the plates at once. I am making the cakes myself with one other person, plus trying to build the business. I have all the energy and vision, just not as much time as I would like.

What keeps you going?

My daughter and my desire for creative success. She is such an awesome human and I strive to be someone she can look up to and see as a source of strength, stability, and inspiration. Pursuing my creativity and entrepreneurial drive is part of that; I had to learn that along the way. I used to think that putting that on the back burner was appropriate, and maybe it was when she was small. But I have found that bringing my whole self to the table is what makes our relationship closer and more rewarding. It’s more honest. And that creates joy in our lives, in spite of the challenge.

Gateaux baked goods

What is your favorite GÂTEAUX treat and what’s your favorite thing to pair with it?

I always say that asking me to choose a favorite is like Sophie’s Choice—they are all my darlings! It’s really mood-based. When I want a cozy treat, it’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake with a strong brew (like Blue Star Coffee). When it’s 3pm and I need a pick-me-up or want to delight the kids in the house, I bake up a Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese-Vanilla Bean Icing. Sometimes I’ll add a little raspberry coulis to that and it dresses it up for dessert. Our Almond Cake might just be my favorite child because it reminds me of Paris and it’s versatile—breakfast anyone? A little whipped cream and it is an elegant dessert.

What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?

I couldn’t do this without the interaction I get with customers. I love to do demos in store and watch people’s eyes light up when they try Gâteaux. My goal is to make people feel like a baking genius. When they understand that they can serve a cake they would be proud of and will truly delight their friends and family, it’s gives me a little endorphin rush. I’m happy for them, and me.

Gateaux bread in tins

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

I have had a number of businesses. Some I talked myself in to, all logic. I think the ones that work have an intuition behind them. Some people call it passion, but I think there’s a belief that is a critical component. The sweet spot is when it doesn’t really feel like work. Wait until you find that idea. It won’t all make sense. I have found people feel quite entitled to give you all sorts of (unsolicited) advice and warnings, but you really need to listen to and trust your own voice. It’s much more motivating and rewarding to be working towards your own vision than someone else’s.

What’s on the horizon for GÂTEAUX?

As far as products go, we can hardly wait to introduce new ones—we want to own all things cake in the freezer. Muffins are next!

We are putting together some really fun events too. We will be doing sampling at Met Markets in the next couple months and even pairing with some awesome coffee and wine makers. And then we have this fun idea to help bring people back together after covid—we see women dressing up a bit and meeting up for some cake and wine. A Cake Society if you will. We want to show women they can feel like they are winning by giving them an awesome product that will deliver all the feel-good of baking for others without spending a ton of time in the kitchen.

two people wind surfing

What are your passions outside of work?

My greatest thrill is windsurfing and being in the outdoors. That is why I stay in Hood River. It brings me peace to have beauty and wildlife nearby. I don’t have as much time as I would like to spend ripping around on the water or out on the trails, but I cherish it when I do. I grew up running around in the woods and swimming in lakes. I need to get dirty and convene with the elements to feel whole.

How do you keep work/life balance?

I don’t. It’s just not achievable as a start-up business owner, so I don’t really set it as a goal. Instead, I keep my eye on a few important guardrails.

I am at a stage in life where my body is my arbiter. It tells me when I have to slow down. And I listen because I can’t do what I do without it. The other is my daughter. As a single mom, I am her go-to. I keep in very close touch with the health of that relationship, which is dependent on me being present and available. The other major factor is the support and understanding of a collection of amazing women. It starts with my mom who lives right next door. I don’t know how I could manage or where I would be without her! She is my greatest and most reliable source of support, even at 80 years old. I also have a women’s group that I have been a part of for 20 years. I know in my heart that any one of us would come running at the drop of a dime for each another—that’s a rare and precious gift in life. And my best friend lives right across the street! When I feel overwhelmed, I know I can turn to any of them and they will set me straight. And I do!

Why did you name your brand Gâteaux?

It was one of those intuition moments. A number of people warned me against it. But it felt right. In fact, it was the moment where I decided to trust my intuition instead of everyone else’s ideas. I love that when I look at the name it reminds me of the trust I put in myself. Plus, these cakes live up to the French standards that I learned at Le Cordon Bleu. I decided they deserved a French name.

packaged gateaux products

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