We shared dessert recipes by three Arkansas foodies with a passion for baking in our December issue. Now, we’re giving you a chance to get to know each a little better through a series on our blog.
Matcha Norwood, Cinnalightful
Home base: Little Rock
Recipe: Mocha Tiramisu
You’d never guess Matcha Norwood—the baker responsible for the tiramisu at Bruno’s Little Italy and cheesecakes at Local Lime and Kemuri—got her start baking as recently as three years ago. At the time, she wasn’t looking to start a new career, just a way to wind down after a long day. “I was very stressed back then, and somebody told me, You know what’s a good stress reliever? When you put your hands in some dough,” Matcha recalls. “I looked up some recipes online. Before then, I had never baked in my life. I had never used an oven, never used a mixer,” she says, laughing.
She started making cinnamon rolls, which inspired the name of her brand, Cinnalightful. Soon, someone had passed along her name to local fast food restaurant Shark’s Fish & Chicken, and her cakes and cinnamon rolls were added to the menu there. “This was when I realized cheese cake is what I really, really like to make,” Matcha says. More wholesale orders followed, and now Matcha estimates about 80 percent of her business comes from recurring restaurant orders, thanks to an account with Sysco.
A change in career—she’s worked in human resources, and then more recently had her own line of skincare products—hasn’t been the only twist and turn in Matcha’s life over the past decade. Her residence in Arkansas happened almost by chance, as well. She was born in Suriname, a Dutch colony in South America, but spent most of her life in The Netherlands. On a work trip-turned-vacation to Arkansas in 2011, she met her now-husband, Curtis, at the recommendation of a mutual friend. “A week before I went back, a friend of mine said, I want you to meet someone,” she says. “And now we’ve been married almost seven years.”
In addition to the various restaurants featuring her sweets, you can catch Matcha and Curtis at her cheesecake food truck, Cheesecake On Point, which debuted this fall at the Main Street Food Truck Festival.
Find out more about Cinnalightful at cinnalightful.com and keep up with the Cheesecake On Point food truck at cheesecakeonpoint.com. You can also follow along on instagram (@cinnalightful and @cheesecakeonpoint).