Waylynn Lucas was born into a family of food lovers. Everyone cooked, food TV shows played in the background 24/7, and outings revolved around carefully researched restaurant choices. “My fondest memories growing up are around food,” she remembers. Even so, the running joke was that the now-celebrity food personality and award-winning pastry chef couldn’t boil water to save her life.
All that changed years later, when Lucas found herself living in a small Costa Rican village without a coffee shop. She seized the opportunity to open one and began making and selling the pastries she had coveted throughout her childhood. Hooked on baking and infatuated with eggs, Lucas enrolled in culinary school back in the States to better hone her skills.
Eventually, she landed in Los Angeles, where she worked for chef José Andrés and at the Michelin-starred restaurant Patina before cofounding Fonuts, a modern take on the classic coffee and doughnut shop. A whirlwind culinary career in the spotlight soon followed, including a six-year run as a judge on the popular Food Network show Cake Wars.
“I devoted everything to my food career for a decade,” Lucas recalls. “I felt really burned out and needed a break.” So in 2017, she bid Hollywood adieu and moved to the mountains of Park City, where her mother resides.
While settling into her quiet country lifestyle and new ranch (also home to chickens, ducks, goats, barn cats, donkeys, dogs, and horses), Lucas began brainstorming ideas for a cookbook that would be approachable for all ages and comfort levels in the kitchen. Her new neighbors served as a sort of test kitchen for recipe development, with sweet and savory treats regularly delivered to their doorsteps. Sunny-Side Up ($15, Rodale Books), her subsequent cookbook, features a bevy of breakfast and brunch recipes, from egg-based favorites to an array of pastries, including Lucas’ famous cinnamon rolls.
With the cookbook under her belt, Lucas has shifted her focus to tending to her baby boy and the nearly 30 animals on her ranch, as well as running her private cooking classes and a catering business. But she’s never forgotten her roots. “I’m still that little girl playing with my Easy-Bake oven,” Lucas says. “I just make food, and I’m lucky.”
Country girl at heart
When she’s not frying up eggs or baking up a storm, you’ll find Waylynn Lucas on her Park City ranch “doin’ country thangs,” from riding horses to roping cattle. Follow her on Instagram @waylynnlucas for recipes and a peek at her Western ways. Oh, and did we mention she’s the goddaughter of music legend Waylon Jennings? It doesn’t get more country than that.