A passion for cookies lands in Hermosa Beach
by Morgan Sliff
When Katy Metoyer got a call from her mother one day two years ago, the urgency in her mom’s voice was more telling than her words. Metoyer’s dad, Barry Bolger, wasn’t feeling well. She immediately boarded a plane to their home in Las Vegas, and within 36 hours the rock of their family and one of her closest confidants was gone.
When her dad died of complications from diverticulitis in October, 2014, Meteyor’s life changed. And as it turned out, so did her baking.
Since her introduction to all things cookies four years ago, Metoyer steadily grew her business from her certified in-home kitchen. But she yearned for a location to stack her cutters. And there’s only one place she ever wished for.
“All I wanted was Chef Wang’s, thinking I’d never get it,” she said. “I never looked or thought of anywhere else.”
So earlier this year when she walked by and saw the iconic Pier Avenue Chinese restaurant affixed with a closing sign, it was like the last piece of the puzzle was in front of her, waiting to be fit. After negotiations with the owner, she had a new set of keys and is now turning her dreams of a storefront into sweet-toothed reality.
Her father’s burial at sea was initially terrifying, with choppy seas and stormy conditions. His ashes were spread, and not a minute later a whale breached, flicking its tail in the air and sending a wave of ease through the attendees. The night before the ceremony Metoyer had a dream of a majestic whale tail, and visions of her dad telling her everything was going to be alright. That moment on the boat wrapped Katy in solace. “That’s it,” she recalled thinking. “I believe he’s still here.”
Upon his passing, Metoyer made a promise to her dad that she would strive to be the best person possible from that moment forward. And as she continued to progress in healing, so did the quality of her cookies. She harnessed her sadness, using baking as therapy and throwing energy into new themes — beach and whale-themed cookies that have now become her recognizable style. She perfected a sugar cookie recipe dubbed “the Sugar Dayne Effect.” (“Sugar Dayne” was her elder son’s nickname growing up.) And the clan of cookiers rallied around her, sending whale-themed gifts from all over the world. Her kitchen is full of whale trinkets and canvases, and she has a dedicated “whale room” where she keeps her baking supplies.
Metoyer began baking four years ago. Burdened by other forms of loss — she’d endured five miscarriages — and with her youngest son off to kindergarten, she was longing for not just a simple hobby but a passion.
“I was at a friend’s house and saw a dish of gorgeous cookies, and thought, I can make these,” she said.
When she began, Metoyer, had never before baked or decorated anything, and slipped by art class in college with a C-. But she has become a prominent player in the cookie arena in very little time.
“Katy describes her artistry as a hot mess, but what I see in her designs is a contemporary cookie dance: colorful and free-flowing, full of raw and pure emotion — both sadness and pure joy,” said Danielle Lind, owner of Dany’s Cakes in Maine.
Callye Alvarado, founder of Sweet Sugarbelle and a veteran in the trade, is one of many captivated by Metoyer’s spirit and inventive nature. “I work in the industry, and day in and day out I see lots of amazing things. But it’s not very often that I see cookies made with such passion that I can actually feel the joy. In the personal sense, she is all the things that makes a person great. Humble, kind, encouraging… but as an artist, there just really aren’t words.”
With guidance of YouTube videos, her initial creations quickly turned from cursed-at lifeless balls of would-be cookies flung into Monterey Boulevard and too-thick or thin dough consistencies to both edible, delicious works of art. And through the evolution of “Sugar Dayne” over the years on social media, Metoyer connected with a crew of cookie connoisseurs and started attending “cookie cons,” where she met web friends from around the globe. They were bound by a common interest in baking, forming special community in which Metoyer could get and give support. “It’s therapeutic for all of us,” she said. “We bake and talk and get to be with each other. There’s a lot of camaraderie.”
Metoyer has big dreams for the for the former Chinese takeout shop. Customers can expect beautiful walls with a mural by Daniel Inez of SocalsOnly, cookie classes, kids and holiday parties, adult-friendly events complete with wine and famous pastry chefs, take-home cookie kits, and an espresso machine to complement the tasty treats available for counter sale.
“I want to bring traditions into Hermosa,” Metoyer said. “Nostalgia is a big thing for me, and I want to give kids and Hermosans a place where they can cultivate good memories.”
Metoyer describes herself as “a mom first,” and her family has been the dough binding together her ever-growing business. Her son Miles acts as office manager. Her husband Jason has provided support for the endeavor that she says “saved my life.” They’ve banded together when she’s been buried under orders. And with the exception of Jason accidentally crashing a remote-controlled helicopter into an important holiday batch, they’ve collectively smoothed out the kinks along the way.
A peek into a day of Metoyer’s life at present looks something like this: After paddling back to the Redondo Harbor from miles out to sea, maybe catching a glimpse of a whale and saying Hi to her dad, she will go home and pour her soul into a new batch of tasty art. She bakes for her dad, for herself, for her customers, and for the town she grew up in.
“I have so much passion for cookies,” Metoyer said. “But I have so much passion for Hermosa Beach.”
Keep up with “The Sugar Dayne Project” on Facebook and Instagram – @sugardayne