Passion for good food is one part of the story, love is the other.
We are Ken Hardy and Jur van Hoorn, chefs and owners of the American Baking Company (ABC). ABC started as the result of the melding of two simultaneous dreams – a life-long passion for good food and the quest for love. As a result, we believe a little of that passion and love is infused throughout our creations – and that helps make our products even more delicious.
Our love for cooking developed on separate continents and in different cultures, but nevertheless the seeds were planted early, nurtured by family and friends and they continue to grow to this day.
Passion for Good Food
Ken grew up in San Antonio, Texas. He learned to bake as a young boy and quickly developed a zeal for the southern desserts that surrounded him. His family’s penchant for traveling introduced him to a range of cuisines. This exposure to a wider variety of spices and ingredients ignited a creative energy in his cooking and allowed him to experiment as he re-created dishes he had experienced during his travels. Even as a boy, Ken would dazzle his family and friends with his delectable creations. Ken’s travels to Malaysia, Europe and Mexico furthered his fascination with regional cuisines – especially all forms of baked sweets and confections. As an actor in New York City, he vastly enjoyed the full diversity of options this culinary center had to offer. New York City would make Ken a self-proclaimed foodie. A fortuitous move to Los Angeles would allow him to once again embrace his enthusiasm for cooking, entertaining and, of course, pairing the perfect meal or event with the perfect dessert. Los Angeles gave him the chance and time to experiment and hone his skills as a chef, baker and caterer — and it would also give him the chance to meet Jur.
Jur was born in Middelburg, the Netherlands. Some of his fondest memories of childhood include the variety of seasonal homemade treats and desserts prepared by his mother – who Jur still says was the best baker ever. In the ABC kitchen her spirit remains alive as they regularly incorporate her skills and techniques into the preparation of their recipes (and even some of her favorite kitchen tools.) Although Jur’s love for fine food began at home, life took him in another direction. After receiving a Masters in Economics, he decided to take a trip to the United States where he became instantly hooked on the American way of life. For the next 18 years he traveled all over the United States, and lived in San Francisco before settling in Los Angeles. Throughout those years, he worked in various levels of the hospitality and restaurant industry, enhancing his knowledge of American-style hospitality and cuisine. Jur grew keenly aware of the impact that great service and beautiful presentation could have. He also became increasingly committed to the value of providing the best quality of food, sourced in sustainable and ecologically-conscious ways.
Love is the other
In 2006, Ken and Jur met in Los Angeles. As they got to know each other, they delighted in discovering their mutual passion for cooking – especially baking – while entertaining their international cadre of eclectic friends. As friends and family continued to rave about their desserts, dinner parties and spirited cocktail hours, both Ken and Jur began to understand that they possessed a unique set of culinary skills that seemed to provide a great sense of joy to others.
In 2008, as they became more fully ensconced in their relationship, they began to dream about establishing a catering company, bakery or eatery in Los Angeles. Fate would disrupt their plans as Jur would have return to the Netherlands to help care for his ailing parents. Immigration issues quickly followed when Jur tried to return to United States. Since Jur and Ken are not yet allowed to marry in the United States, it became clear that the couple would have to make a decision. If they wanted to remain together, Ken would have to move to the Netherlands since this was a country that would legally recognize their relationship.
In 2009, Ken and Jur made the leap. Ken left Los Angeles and they relocated to The Hague, where they would have a chance to build a life together. Their passion for cooking and baking – along with Ken’s longing for American treats and desserts and Jur’s rediscovery of the artistry and culinary skills he learned from his mother melded together — and the American Baking Company was born.
“The American Baking Company began as part of our adventure to create a new home, while keeping alive some of scrumptious joys from our previous homes,” said Ken.
“Now, we hope our culinary creations will also bring you some sweet happiness, joy and love along the way,” added Jur.