This weekend, a blind Picayune resident will travel to New Orleans to accept a baking award for his work over the past three years.
Paul Alexander owns a small kitchen business specializing in baking. News 25 caught up with Alexander and discussed his journey from startup business owner to Pastry Chef award winner.
Alexander started his business with his wife three years ago, just two years after losing his sight.
Alexander has spent most of his life learning to cook. He began honing his cooking skills with his grandmother when he was just six years old. “I was the only grandson she had, so I used to hang out in the kitchen with her and learned a few traits.”
While he has spent the majority of his life perfecting his cooking, he only started cooking three years ago.
Paul says he learned this skill two years after having a life-changing medical emergency. February 17and2017, Paul woke up with a burst blood vessel in his left eye and had to undergo surgery to clean out the retina in hopes of saving his sight.
As his left eye healed from the operation, he began to lose sight in his right eye. November 26and the same year, Paul became completely blind. “It happened so fast. They didn’t know what it was. They thought it was my diet; they thought it was diabetes; they thought it was all kinds of things.
Around January 2019, Paul started teaching himself how to cook. When Paul and his wife Karla returned from their honeymoon in May 2019, he told her he wanted to start selling homemade cheesecakes.
The duo started cooking at home and handing out cakes to anyone who wanted one. July 31stthey officially opened P’s Sweets and began selling pastries and cakes of all kinds right from their kitchen with Paul baking and Karla decorating.
During the first week of August, business began to boom. “We went from, you know, a $30-$40 week to, you know, a few hundred dollars here and there. It was a big deal for me to be home all day sitting around the house trying to find something to do.
This weekend, the National Black Chef Association will present 92 pastry chef awards to chefs from Canada, the United States and Africa. Paul was chosen to be one of the recipients.
He will travel to New Orleans this weekend to accept the award which recognizes three years of hard work and perseverance. Karla said: “It’s amazing. It’s incredible. We pray together and enjoy the journey together.
If you want to order something from P’s Sweets, visit their Facebook page or call 228-357-0104.