ELMHURST – A software engineer-turned-pastry chef, the owner of Gür Sweets in Elmhurst likes to challenge labels and put a twist on the expected.
“Being in America, we’re such a huge melting pot of the whole world,” said the bakery’s head pastry chef and owner, Rubina Hafeez. “It just makes sense to have a fusion bakery.”
Hafeez opened the fusion bakery after more than a decade working with computers, not bread. She grew up cooking with her mother and grandmother. In 2005, she earned her culinary degree, and in November 2012, Gür Sweets was born.
“We believe in wholesome nutrition,” Hafeez said.
The bakery’s name, “gür,” is an Indian word meaning “sugar in its purest form.” All of Hafeez’s creations, from her mango cake to her savory vegetarian samosa, are made fresh daily without preservatives.
“We are all about the quality instead of the quantity here,” Hafeez said.
Every day, her staff fills lighted bakery cases with frosted creations and stacks of fresh loaves of bread on tall racks. They all are baked in small batches. The bakery begins each day with a limited number but a variety of goodies.
Hafeez prides herself on always offering new items. She has favorites, but enjoys exploring regional foods when she travels and bringing back new flavors to her bakery.
“I admire, and I appreciate, what other cooks are doing,” Hafeez said.
Her recipes, while original, often mix cultural staples. When the cronut craze struck the U.S., she got to work mixing up her own “gurnut,” as she calls it. The croissant-doughnut hybrid exemplifies the type of fusion creations Hafeez loves to make.
Although she still considers her shop a bakery first, Hafeez won’t let that label limit her creativity. The store has begun to make mango ice cream in house and plans to start selling fresh yogurt drinks, which Hafeez said are healthier than smoothies. Lunch sandwiches on their homemade breads also are on the list of future items.
“It’s more about what the customer needs,” Hafeez said.
From custom wedding cakes to cupcake bouquets, Gür Sweets caters to the customer’s wish. If ordered in advance, the bakery can accommodate special dietary needs such as vegan, nondairy or gluten-free options.
Hafeez likes to think her storefront bakery offers customers the chance to sample tastes from around the world without leaving their neighborhood.
“I would encourage people to come and take an adventure,” Hafeez said.