Bailey Clark: ‘Food is my love language’

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Twenty-four year old Bailey Clark can still remember her great-grandmother Bessie’s chicken and dumplings. Talk about “from scratch.”

“First she’d go out and find the fattest hen and wring its neck,” Clark said.

Her great grandmother is gone now, but if Clark could have anyone cook her any meal, it would be great-grandmother Bessie, and it would be her chicken and dumplings, she said.

Clark would also like to have a slice of her grandmother’s pie for dessert — chocolate or lemon. It doesn’t matter. She loved both.

“She traded Fausto pies for his white chicken boxes,” Clark said. “That’s what she put her pies in to sell them.” Fausto’s Fried Chicken was a DeQuincy landmark and icon from the 1970s until 2017.

Cooking runs in the family, and she’s not the first to sing the praises of simple, fresh, from scratch cuisine. Her cousin Charles Clark has been a contestant on the Iron Chef, and has proven himself one of the few Houston restaurateurs with staying power. After owning a few popular Houston eateries with a partner, he is now the sole owner of Brasserie 19.

“He’s been a real inspiration to me,” Clark said.

A single mom, she supported herself and her son as she worked her way through the Culinary Arts Degree program at Sowela Technical Community College. Her son Callen is five years old now and easy to please when it comes to meal making.

“He likes anything with cheese,” she said with a chuckle.

At Sowela, Clark honed some skills and was exposed to ethnic foods for the first time. Every semester her name appeared on the Dean’s or Chancellor’s list.

“At Sowela I learned to bake,” she said, “and that’s where I had a couple of epic fails – at first.”

She was already what some might describe as well-seasoned when she started the culinary program.

“I remember making biscuits and gravy when I was five years old,” she said.

As an elementary student, she prepared her first full meal for her family. Today she’s learning the ropes at BaeBae’s Backyard in DeQuincy, cooking plate lunches, burgers and other favorites. The owner is Charles Clark’s brother, Steve. The pace is fast, very fast, and Clark has learned a valuable lesson. You can’t please all the people all the time, but some of those people might have good suggestions for “tweaking” a recipe some of the time.

“I’m always learning,” she said, and I enjoy making others happy with my food,” she said. “It’s my love language.”