With over two decades of culinary experience, Lori Baker is an acclaimed pastry chef whose work spans from local bakeries to fine dining restaurants. She grew up in Cincinnati and knew from a young age that she wanted to go to culinary school and become a pastry chef. After all, her last name is Baker. Before embarking on her culinary career, Lori began honing her skills at Johnson & Wales culinary school in Rhode Island, but her true passion and aspiration stems from a visit to Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Los Angeles, where her grandparents introduced her to Wolfgang. They expressed Lori’s interest in the pastry industry, and in turn, Wolfgang personally sent her resume to his then restaurant in San Francsico, Postrio.


It was her time at Postrio that laid the groundwork for Lori’s future, both in her personal and professional life. During her two years at Postrio, Lori met her husband, Jeff Banker, and worked under the mentorship of Pastry Chef Janet Rikala. Knowing the restaurant industry was her calling, Lori moved on to work at BIX in San Francisco for a few years. Next, came a stint at Gordon’s House of Fine Eats in San Francsico before leaving for Home Restaurant with her husband. During their three years at Home, Lori and her husband helped open a second location in the city and Lori focused on developing signature desserts, like her banana bread pudding and cookies ’n cream lava cake.


After Home, Lori continued her pastry career in San Francisco at Fifth Floor Restaurant and then went on to teach at the California Culinary Academy for two years. Then, in 2009, Lori opened Baker & Banker, a 50-seat upscale restaurant with an adjacent bakery, with her Executive Chef husband, Jeff Banker. Since the day they met, Lori and Jeff aspired to become restaurant owners, and for five years at Baker & Banker, they turned their dreams into a reality. Lori was charged with designing the entire dessert menu for the restaurant and all bakery items, including hand-crafted breads and desserts, breakfast pastries, focaccia pizzas, layer cakes, and cupcakes, fresh sandwiches, and seasonal pies. In 2014, they made the bittersweet decision to close their eponymous restaurant to spend more time with their two children.


Over the next few years, Lori worked as a consultant designing dessert menus, training pastry cooks, catering large conferences, and more for clients such as Bluestem Restaurant & Market, Café Claude, Finn Town, and Le Colonial. In 2022, Lori became pastry chef and owner of Maybeck’s, and when the pandemic shut down restaurants, Lori was recruited by Waterbar and accepted her new role as executive pastry chef.


In her position at Waterbar, Lori oversees all areas of the restaurant relating to dessert such as menu creation, special events and in-house private events. She manages all levels on her team including hiring, scheduling, mentoring, and training. She is working to create seasonally inspired desserts from scratch with an elevated presentation to match the restaurant’s elegant surroundings. Guests can look forward to her Poppyseed Chiffon Cake with grapefruit curd, olive oil sorbet, and cream cheese glaze and Banana Crisp with peanut butter and chocolate shortbread and milted milk chocolate ice cream.


When she is not baking something sweet, she loves to cook savory dinners for her family and spend time hiking.