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Alex Wilson opens in 400-square-foot space on Washington Street



GAZETTE PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Alex Wilson displays a batch of cookies in his new Hungry Hero dessert shop and catering on Washington Street.

To say that Alex Wilson is passionate about making desserts is an understatement.

Even during his first year out of culinary school, he worked on creating recipes and still sleeps with a notepad by his bed in case he thinks of a late-night recipe.

With that in mind, Wilson, 28, has opened a storefront for his dessert shop — Hungry Hero — which he started a little over four years ago. And he’s anxious to get started.

“I love what I do,” he said. “Nobody is unhappy when they’re eating cake.”

Wilson began his business out of his home by creating elaborate dessert tables, donating them to charitable organizations such as Our House, Basic Rights Oregon and Phame to name a few in an effort to get his name and reputation out there.

“That’s been kind of my philosophy is building a foundation of giving,” he said. “That’s how I grew my business.”

As a result, his repetition spread rapidly and people began referring business to him. Wilson said when people see you genuinely care about something, people want to support you.

“I have a pretty loyal following now,” he pointed out.

Having worked in the past as a line cook, he decided he wanted to start his own dessert business.

So, his first year out of Oregon Culinary School in 2011, Wilson began work creating his own recipes.

“All my recipes were created by me,” he pointed out. “I’ve done everything from scratch, my own blood, sweat and tears.”

Wilson credits Rachel Schoening, co-owner of Fat Milo’s Family Kitchen in Old Town, and her husband, Miles, with supporting him, giving him space to create dishes for his catering business.

“They let me use kitchen space free for a year,” he said. “Rachel is definitely a big reason why my business took off in Sherwood.”

When he heard that there was retail space opening just down the street on Washington Street, he jumped at the opportunity. That’s where he took over a 420-square-foot space where he basically gutted the place, installing a whole commercial kitchen, having the electrical wiring redone, adding a few walls as well as a commercial refrigerator.

“It’s lean and mean ... but it works,” said Wilson, noting that as a pastry chef, he’s used to working in a small environment. “So, this is kind of palatial compared to what I’m used to.”

Wilson said he comes from a big family, a family where 40 family members still gather each week for a meal.

“We grew up with a lot of scratch-made food,” he said. “It was just a natural thing.”

His parents are Rod and Debbie Wilson, owners of Bumblebee Preschool in Old Town.

He said his shop will allow residents can come in to get a slice of cake, buy an entire cake or try a breakfast pastries.

“I wanted to bring something you’d find in the Pearl District to Old Town Sherwood,” he said. “I love Sherwood. I’ve always wanted to have a business here.”

And Wilson’s reputation has already gotten around, having been asked to create pastries for the Dutch Bros. Coffee kiosks in Newberg, Tigard and Sherwood. At the moment, he’s delivering lemon loaf, raspberry scones and monster cookies to the popular coffee chain.

So far, business for the Hungry Hero has been good and Wilson is booked solid from now until mid-September where his focus will remain on desserts and cakes.

He also does numerous kids’ birthdays where he can create custom décor and cupcakes.

Wilson said he likes to keep it simple with buttercream frosting, fresh flowers and edible decorations.

“I don’t like a lot of fuss and pretention,” he said. “I want my desserts to be approachable ... (made with) things you remember when you’re growing up.”

That means adding caramel, peanut butter and chocolate to many of his creations.

However, he’s also not afraid of adding bacon to several of his creations including his maple-bacon cupcakes and bacon-caramel popcorn.

Surprisingly, he said he doesn’t eat a lot of sweets.

“When you’re surrounded by this stuff, you don’t want to eat it all the time,” he pointed out.

For the future, he would like to be able to make the current business successful before expanding.

“I really would love one day to write about entertaining, catering and recipes,” he said.

He also wants to be known as the business that has elaborate dessert displays with the goal that they are impressive enough that “blow people’s minds.”

Wilson said he doesn’t have a single favorite dessert, instead trying to concentrate on the dessert he’s making at the time.

“I like to be great at everything I make,” he said.

The Hungry Hero will host its grand opening at 22567 S.W. Washington St. at 10 a.m. on July 11. Then he’ll be open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit thehungryhero.com.

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