You might know 27-year-old pastry chef Samantha Allen for the desserts you’ve dug into at The Fig Tree Restaurant, a Charlotte classic. Or you know her if you nibbled yourself into a dessert high at this year’s Sugar Shock event, a six-course tasting that featured plates by local female pastry chefs.
By this summer or early fall, you’ll know her as the pastry chef who trucks around in an upfitted Shasta 61, nicknamed her “dessert camper” for her side business, Wentworth & Fenn.
Allen, a Johnson & Wales grad, has worked full-time at The Fig Tree for four years, but has been operating her side-gig gourmet bakery out of a commercial kitchen in Concord since last year.
In lieu of a brick-and-mortar storefront, Allen will be rolling out the Shasta with a similar menu to what you see at her pop-ups around town at events like Artisans Market at The Village At Commonwealth. Allen’s two-month menus feature seasonal pastries. The February and March menu is rich with items like dark chocolate cookie sandwiches filled with pistachio butter and butterscotch/banana pound cake. She also offers custom orders.
Her Wentworth & Fenn camper will serve the two-month menu, with the aim to feature as many local suppliers and the best ingredients possible. You can also expect to find local coffee and some bakery staples like breads, brown sugar butter cookies and silk tort.
The name behind her bakery is similarly sweet. Allen and her wife, Cassie, have a habit of wandering back to Charleston. “Our happy place,” Allen calls it.
During one adventure, they were wandering through the Lowcountry city and passed Wentworth Street, and later, on an abandoned naval base, Fenn Street. Allen knew that had to be the name. It didn’t sound like a bakery, and she wants people to raise an eyebrow when they hear “Wentworth & Fenn.”
Allen opted for the 14-foot Shasta as an extension of the bakery after a brick-and-mortar location she and Cassie, 29, had scouted out fell through.
They decided to go mobile, but traditional food trucks aren’t their style. They live in an old house built in 1955 and have vintage cars — a 1956 Bel Air and a military vehicle from the 1930s.
Allen said they decided: “Let’s just keep rolling with it. Let’s get a camper.”
They found the Shasta, already gutted, a couple of hours away in South Carolina. This is Cassie’s project — she works as a fabricator at a vintage place and has metalwork expertise.
Allen will handle the finishing touches and, of course, the baking.
The camper will likely run a scheduled route, on Thursdays and Sundays, and perhaps a couple of mornings at specific locations to offer coffee and pastries to commuters.
Over time, she hopes to park the camper at more pop-up markets, and to be able to rent it out for weddings, birthdays and other special occasions with a full cake or a dessert assortment.
While she has been passionate about baking for nearly 14 years, Allen said she thinks she has finally found her niche and her style.
She said, “I really want to give people something that is really beautiful, but it tastes like home.”
Catch Wentworth & Fenn next:
Taste goods from Wentworth & Fenn at the March 25 Artisans Market at The Foundry. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. See details here.
Photo: Courtesy of Wentworth & Fenn