John Millard and Amy Edelman, proprietors of the Night Kitchen Bakery & Café.

John Millard and Amy Edelman, proprietors of the Night Kitchen Bakery & Café.

by Jeremy Jones

Night Kitchen Bakery & Café is like a must-see film that has all the elements of a blockbuster.

Romance – girl meets boy, Mystery – magical recipes, Inspiration – hard work rewarded, Humor – specialty-cake designs for the groom. Heart – helps the less fortunate, Suspense – what’s new on the menu? Special effects – dreamy aroma of fresh brewed un-franchised coffee; Glamor – appears in magazines and on TV, Adventure – prepares brunch at a superstar’s house; Happy ending – always leaves you wanting more.

Shop Local screenplay synopsis:

The scene: Interior shot of Night Kitchen Bakery & Café, 7725 Germantown Ave. Staff arrives at 5 a.m. and gets to work. Door opens at 7 a.m. Morning customers arrive for coffee and light breakfast – some with laptops, some with friends. Many can’t start their day without a big warm sticky bun.

We follow a montage of the day and see folks come for lunch or get lunch to go. A mom and her little boy stop by for a cold glass of milk after school. A young girl from Northeast Philly comes in with her mother and brother to plan a specialty cake for her 16th birthday party. The cake will serve 40. Another mom picks up an order of her daughter’s favorite cupcakes to take to her at college in Chicago, with extra for her lacrosse team. All the while, sumptuous pastries are served, boxed or custom ordered.

The backstory: In 2000, Amy Edelman takes an ad in the Love@Yahoo! Personals. John Millard responds. Edelman, an accomplished chef, has just purchased a bakery in Chestnut Hill called the Night Kitchen. So, for their first date, Millard, also an accomplished chef, comes to the bakery and he and Edelman share a chocolate chip cookie. A year later, Millard is on board as chef at the Bakery.

Edelman and Millard get married in 2002, and in 2011 they adopt a little girl from Guatemala. Her name is Izabella.

A 1988 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Edelman buys the tiny Night Kitchen Bakery in 2000 from Marie Trementina who has owned it since 1981, By this time, Edelman has established herself as chef for nationally renowned restaurants as well as Pollo Rosso in Chestnut Hill. She has also owned her own catering business which operated out of the Crefeld School kitchen. Millard has earned his esteemed reputation as chef at White Dog Café, Odeon and Café Max.

The breakthrough: In 2010 Edelman and Millard purchase the vacant building next to Night Kitchen, formerly a consignment shop and then a hair salon. They break through the wall to create a doorway from the original kitchen to the large newly renovated space next door. Night Kitchen Bakery grows from 300 square feet to 1,000 square feet and becomes Night Kitchen Bakery & Café, complete with generous counter space and comfortable seating. Business was always good, but when they expand the space and double the length of their storefront star-dusted blue and white awning, it’s a runaway success.

Critics’ choice: Cakes – mocha mousse and lemon curd; Bars – brownie (a Best of Philly award winner), lemon; Cookies – shortbread, chocolate chip; Puddings – classic chocolate, key lime, dulce de leche (Return the pudding container top, get 50 cents.); Lunch and to-go – turkey chili, signature soups, quinoa salad, pasta salad.

Red Carpet interview: “I think our success is a combination of excellent ingredients and recipes that no one else has, and our friendly, knowledgeable customer service,” Edelman said. “Everyone goes the extra mile in terms of service. And I’m most proud of the artistry of our custom cakes.”

Acknowledgments: Night Kitchen also gets kudos for supporting nearly 100 nonprofit local organizations with donations of gift certificates and food. All leftover breakfast items go to Face to Face Dining Room in Germantown.

In 2010, Edelman started her own nonprofit organization, Green in Chestnut Hill (GrinCH). Its mission is to raise awareness of environmental issues in our area and present outreach and educational programs. The Café is a 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant.

June of 2015 marks the 34th anniversary of Night Kitchen Bakery’s remarkable run and the 15th anniversary of proud ownership for Edelman and Millard. A big open-house celebration party is planned.

“We are looking forward to our next 15 years,” Edelman said. “We really want to be a foothold and a strong presence in the community. We’re in it for the long haul. My daughter says she wants to be a baker when she grows up, so maybe it will be passed on to the next generation.”

And the award for Night Kitchen’s most memorable moment goes to: That day in April, 2012, when Edelman and Millard were honored to prepare brunch for 90 people at the James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Their five-course meal received raves.

“It was like winning the Oscar if there was an Oscar for being a chef,” Edelman said.