The MNY Spotlight
Meet Elizabeth Mayhew, Professional Baker known as "The Dutchy of Millbrook"
My name is Elizabeth Mayhew. I am originally from Louisville, KY, but have been in New York for over 30 years. I have spent my career in media working for brands such as House Beautiful, Real Simple, The Washington Post, Woman’s Day, Southern Living and NBC’s Today Show. I am also the author of the book FLIP for Decorating (Ballantine). I am married to my high school boyfriend (we just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary!) and have one son and one daughter.
Elizabeth wears the Odette Midi Dress in sunkissed
I have always loved cooking and baking and grew up in a house where everyone else did too. I decorated my first cake when I was around 8 years old and have never stopped—even in college I baked for my friends, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that people started hiring me to bake.
The name of my company was inspired by a character in one of my favorite book series, The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. The matriarch in the story is named Kitty, but everyone calls her The Dutchess—Duchy for short. I added the “t” to the nickname as a nod to Dutchess County, where Millbrook is located. I wanted a name that sounded special, but friendly and had a sense of place.
Great question. I was doing all until a few months ago when I finally decided to turn in my pen for a pastry tube. I found that I was much happier and more inspired decorating cakes than writing. So while I can still pitch ideas to my editors, I am concentrating on cakes for now.
Follow along on Instagram @elizabethmayhew
Practice, practice, practice. Turns out Malcolm Gladwell is right: you do anything for 10,000 hours, you will get good at it.
The cakes I seem to be most known for are what I call my charm cakes—think of them as an edible charm bracelet. Clients send me a list of favorite foods, hobbies, places etc and I incorporate them into the design. The cake becomes a collage of someone’s life—very personal and totally bespoke. People ask all of the time if I do a sketch first; I do not. I start with my scalloped frame (I love scallops—they are like smiles linked together!) and then I add whatever message or words are needed. The rest of the process is like doodling, I add items, usually starting at the bottom left and rely on my art history training to guide me in line, color, and shape to fill the cake. The last step is adding either bows or tassels to the sides of the cake.
I have signature elements that you will likely see on most of my cakes: polka dots, bows, tassels, scallops, green garlands, four leaf clovers and hearts. I also have a penchant for pink, chocolate brown, red, light blue and leaf green so you will often see those colors repeated in my designs.