For some, stress brings out the best.
That’s certainly the case for Lutunji Abram. And her best is propelling her to become one of the top names in the gourmet dessert industry.
Abram, owner of Lutunji’s Palate, 930 Hennepin Ave., downtown Minneapolis, endured a pretty rough patch in life, but now everything seems to be peachy … peach cobbler to be exact. That’s the dessert that put Abram on the foodie map and the one that has brought her from depressed job seeker to enthusiastic entrepreneur.
Abram said her cobbler, Harriet’s Escape, which is quickly becoming the talk of the town, was birthed at her home kitchen during a period of job transition.
“So, I wasn’t admitting to myself that I was depressed, but I’d be at home making all these different peach cobblers and after, a few close friends said you can sell these,” said Abram. “This was never a dream of mine.”
If Harriet’s Escape tastes divine, Abram said it’s because it was divinely inspired.
“God spoke to me. I heard God say, ‘I want you to make a coconut oil crust,’” said Abram, who said that unique crust is a key reason her cobblers stand apart from the rest. “This is God-driven. I’m walking forward with no fear and excited about every step.”
When talking about Abram’s peach cobblers the “s” is needed because she currently has two versions – a “buttery, buttery” and a vegan. She also makes a pecan cobbler and a coconut cake bite that is both plant-based and gluten free. In addition, Lutunji’s Palate sells an “old fashioned” macaroon that is plant based, but not gluten free.
“For all my desserts I use high-end ingredients,” proudly said Abram. “I found a certain flour with this perfect blend that doesn’t have an aftertaste or anything.”
Abram’s rise has been somewhat meteoric. She got her start this past summer at the Whittier Farmer’s Market in Minneapolis, but the humble baker said it was an appearance on the podcast “Keeping Up with Coco and Lala,” a Facebook cooking show celebrating the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, that propelled her.
“That brought me a lot of attention … you hear me, a lot of attention,” said Abram.
Abram’s first time on camera with Coco Laud and YaLonda “Lala” Lolar Johnson doesn’t seem like it will be her last. The baker of sweet treats says she’s been approached by other television producers.
“There are some offers out there,” said Abram.
In the meantime, Abram said she’s working on her next big thing, a fully plant based sweet potato pie.
“That was my mother’s idea, so I’ve been working on it and I tell you, it’s really good,” said Abram, with an unmistakable joy in her voice. “I’m having so much fun with this.”
In addition to her downtown Minneapolis location, Lutunji’s Palate treats can be found at North Market in Minneapolis, Cajun Twist at the Trailhead (Theodore Wirth Park), Pimento Jamaican Kitchen in the Eat Street neighborhood of Minneapolis and Trio Plant Based in Uptown. Abram said she’s also in negotiations with a major supermarket chain.
“Again, I could have had a pity party for myself, but I found my niche and kept on moving,” said Abram.