Owner of Eat The Rich pushes culinary boundaries in Dayton region



Eat The Rich, a cottage bakery based out of Vandalia, has been doing pop-ups throughout the Dayton region for the past two years and recently partnered with two local businesses to sell their baked goods.

Owner Kelsea Pernsteiner is not stopping there. In the future, she hopes to open a brick-and-mortar in downtown Dayton.

Meet Kelsea Pernsteiner

Pernsteiner’s passion for culinary arts started at a young age. Her grandmother was a great baker, but she said it was her godmother who really influenced her love for cooking and baking. She recalled her godmother taking her to restaurants, making great dishes and talking with her about different flavors. This love for culinary arts eventually turned into an obsession with reading cookbooks.

“I would just sit on my parents’ couch reading cookbooks and imagining a life where I was making all of these amazing dishes from all over the world,” Pernsteiner said.

The 29-year-old is from Dayton, but grew up in Vandalia. She recalled always wanting to open a restaurant, cafe or bakery, especially after working at Christy’s Family Pizzeria and Jim’s Donut Shop.

Making a dream her reality

After living in California, Texas and Virginia, Pernsteiner returned to the Dayton area in 2020.

“Everywhere I went no one else had that since of community that Dayton has,” she said.

She started making desserts at Hairless Hare Brewery where customers started requesting whole cakes, which gave her the confidence to start her own business. She also recalled reading a news article about Ben Bullock, owner of Bootleg Bagels in Yellow Springs, and being inspired by his story of how he started his business.

“If I hadn’t read that article about Ben I would have never taken the plunge,” Pernsteiner said.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Creating gourmet flavors

Eat The Rich focuses on creative, gourmet flavors as well as catering to a multitude of dietary restrictions and allergies.

“A lot of times people in the culinary world either love to bake or they love to cook and it’s very rare that someone likes to do both because there are two totally different sets of rules,” Pernsteiner said. “Cooking is like jazz. You can freestyle and do all sorts of crazy stuff, but if you freestyle with baking soda in a recipe it’s going to be a nightmare.”

Pernsteiner really enjoys cooking and baking, but says she takes her creative attitude and reflects it through her flavors.

“I love the classics, but I also like pushing boundaries,” Pernsteiner said.

A customer favorite includes the Sad Boii cupcake featuring a Valrhona chocolate cake filled with Fleur De Sel caramel that’s frosted with chocolate ganache and topped with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

My personal favorite during the holiday season is the Peppermint & Dark Chocolate Chip cupcake featuring Valrhona chocolate cake with pure peppermint buttercream loaded with chunks of fair trade dark chocolate.

Cupcakes aside, Eat The Rich offers custom cakes, cookies and brownies.

“I think my favorite part is getting to be a part of peoples’ celebrations,” Pernsteiner said. “I just always feel super honored and humbled.”

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Giving back to the community

When Pernsteiner lived in Virginia she did a lot of bake sales to raise money for organizations like No Kid Hungry and Pelotonia.

After owning her business for two years, giving back to the community remains a top priority. Last month, she donated the proceeds from a pop-up, nearly $400, to buy sensory integration equipment for a local school.

Pernsteiner shared she grew up poor and her family was a recipient of charity. She always said she wanted to make sure she gave back more than she received.

Brick-and-mortar in the works

Pernsteiner is looking forward to becoming part of the downtown Dayton community in the form of a brick-and-mortar in the near future. She wants to “create a space for people to get together and spend time without the expectation of having to drink or having to spend a ton of money.”

Her dream space will have a bakery/coffee shop vibe in the morning, but stay open late for those wanting dessert in the evenings.

“Dayton has a lot of really exciting things that are happening and I feel like the city is really starting to find its stride and rhythm,” Pernsteiner said. “There’s a lot of really hardworking, amazing business owners and without these people that are willing to risk their livelihoods and dreams, Dayton wouldn’t have this vibrancy. It’s incredibly important for people to remember to support local businesses and restaurants.”

Where to find Eat The Rich

Eat The Rich will have a pop-up from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 at Ned Peppers during the Oregon District’s Holiday Market. Her baked goods can also be found at The Local 937 and Fifth Street Brewpub in St. Anne’s Hill Historic District.

For more information about Eat The Rich, visit www.eattherichdyt.square.site or the bakery’s Instagram or Facebook pages (@eattherichdyt).

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

About the Author