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Art You Can Eat: Exploring the Work of Nicole Redd-McIntosh

ISS Guckenheimer Executive Pastry Chef Nicole Redd-McIntosh shares her passion for pastries and discusses why experimentation is vital for excellence.

When she thinks back to her childhood, Nicole Redd-McIntosh says it was inevitable that she became a pastry chef. Coming from a family of food lovers, the flavors she experienced growing up were formative, shaping a lifelong passion for crafting delicious desserts and sharing her love of food with others. 

“My whole family loves sweets,” Nicole says. “Growing up, my mom was always taking us to different restaurants to try things—maybe a key lime pie or strawberry shortcake—and find new favorites. A lot of our family memories are centered around food, so going into the culinary arts just made sense to me.” 


As an Executive Pastry Chef for ISS Guckenheimer, Nicole and her team help to deliver thousands of meals each day for a Los Angeles-based video game developer, producing a vast variety of breads, pastries, cakes, and more for the company’s in-house restaurant. She also owns and operates Nicole Bakes Cakes, crafting custom cakes for all occasions with designs inspired by abstract art, the natural world, and fashion among other influences. And with features on platforms like Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, and Style Me Pretty, Nicole’s reputation as a revered and respected pastry chef is cemented throughout her professional community.

“I’m passionate about beauty in my work,” Nicole says. “I pull inspiration from all kinds of things—the pattern on a dress, the way flowers look in the sunlight, how paint rests on a canvas—and let that guide my thinking. Pastry and cake design is just making art you can eat. I really enjoy making people happy with my food and being a pastry chef allows me to do that every day.”

Harnessing Her Creativity

Nicole’s colleagues not only share her passion for food, but also see something exceptional in her and her work. Executive Chef Matt Yuen, who runs the client restaurant and works with Nicole daily, says her creativity and leadership revitalized how their team delivered sweets. 

“Nicole started in 2018 and immediately took ownership of pastries and desserts,” Matt says. “She started off with just two others in her department. Now, she has a team of five under her doing incredible work making breads and pastries in house—Nicole spearheaded everything. I really respect her knowledge and creativity, and I never want to hinder her because she’s on another level.” 

Matt says that before hiring Nicole, the restaurant didn’t always make their dessert courses on site, relying on premade items to meet daily demands. Since taking over as Executive Pastry Chef, Nicole overhauled the process and now her team makes most everything themselves, from pastries to breads to cookies, in massive quantities each day. 

A huge proponent of teamwork and collaboration, Nicole says her previous experience made her transition to ISS Guckenheimer a little smoother.

“Prior to this role, I worked in a wholesale bakery,” she says. “I was used to doing volume but feeding around 3,000 people every day is a different thing. So, I rely on my team. Every person has a unique skill set and I want them to excel and explore their talents—if they’ve got a recipe or flavor profile they want to try, I’m all for it. Everyone can come to me with their ideas.”

Nicole argues that good food carries with it a power to shape a person’s experience, which is a driving force for her work. If someone is having a bad day, she says, a well-crafted dessert can inspire action or act as a reprieve, even if only for a short while. Especially for major life events like weddings, an excellent cake is a crucial component that adds to the beauty and emotional resonance of the experience. 

“My goal is when I set a cake down on a display, I want someone and their guests to be absolutely amazed by what I’ve provided,” she says. “That’s my greatest joy and passion.”

Sharing Her Passion

Alexandria Howren, an ISS Guckenheimer culinary director and chef, says she met Nicole by participating in culinary competitions; the two bonded over a mutual passion for programs that support the development of women chefs. 

“Nicole is seen as someone who is both insanely fierce and incredibly talented,” Alexandria says. “In competition mode, you don’t want to get in her way. But then she smiles at you, and no matter how stressed you are, you know that everything is going to work out okay. She’s a true leader who not only inspires people, but also develops talent and gives people opportunities to experiment.”

Alexandria says one of Nicole’s greatest strengths is her dedication to inclusivity—it permeates how she leads, cultivates talent, and develops new ideas in her role as a pastry chef. Matt Yuen echoes this, also pointing to Nicole’s attention to detail and ability to inspire her team. 

“She is absolutely dedicated to quality,” he says. “I admire her willingness and ability to step out of her comfort zone. I want all our chefs to use this space as a playground for research and development, and Nicole has really run with this. We get regular praise from our clients about her work and I’m excited to see what her future holds.”

In terms of her future, Nicole sees no signs of slowing down. She says she’d love to expand her role to visit other ISS Guckenheimer accounts and teach their teams about her craft, as not all accounts have dedicated pastry chefs on staff. In the meantime, however, Nicole says she is excited to keep exploring new ideas and developing the talents of her team to continue building on their success. 

“In a kitchen, you become a little family,” she says. “Our work can be intense, and it attracts all kinds of people from different backgrounds and upbringings. To be at our best, it’s important that we always have each other’s back. So, if my team wants to experiment or take a risk on something, I’m all about it—this is the place to do it!