In this series of posts, we are asking Lakelanders to share what is inspiring them in the world of art and media. We hope sharing these recommendations will help you find your next great read or the perfect flick to add a little something extra to your week.

This week we are featuring Benjamin Vickers, Lakeland native, and owner and pastry chef of Honeycomb Bread Bakers. Benjamin recently announced the expansion of Honeycomb Bread Bakers from pop-up at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market to a permanent bakery downtown. Support Honeycomb’s new Bakery here.

Benjamin attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York City.

Here’s what’s inspiring Benjamin this week:

  1. Before starting a career in baking, I studied literature and steeped in the mythos of modern fiction. A true gem of modern writing is Italo Calvino (1923-1985). I can’t help but admire his lyrical way of weaving narrative. Though many of his short works are set in gritty or urban environments, his characters are embodied with lighthearted, almost whimsical personalities. His novels The Baron in the Trees and Invisible Cities are short and lovely pieces of escapism, and I can’t help but return to them again and again.

2. Can we talk about what a rare treasure the Polk Museum of Art is? I’m consistently blown away by the quality and variety of their exhibitions and educational initiatives. The fine arts are so core to the identity of our community and play a central role in inspiring my own craft. I can’t overstate how grateful I am to have such a resource in Lakeland.

3. One of my idols in the food world is pastry chef Francisco Migoya. He has always been on the cutting edge of the industry in both design and flavor; but more so, he cares deeply about fostering wisdom and passion in the next generation of bakers. I’m inspired by his work and hope to emulate him by sharing my bread knowledge and love of baking with others.

4. This one may be a little goofy: I recently watched The Good Place starring Kristen Bell on Netflix. Without any spoilers, the plot deals centrally with morality and ethics, exploring what it means to be a good person, and the complicated and often fraught motivations behind people’s actions. Not only is it a joy to watch for comedy’s sake, but I find the questions raised in the show rattling around in my mind quite often. And I hope that as I grow as an entrepreneur, I am able to stay true to the values of generosity, humility, honesty, and grace that I care about.

5. I often get asked about how we crafted Honeycomb’s unique brand identity. My best friend, Sally, inspires me with her creativity (and bold new haircut and amazing sense of style!). You will see her name credited with many of the most distinct and elegant elements of Honeycomb’s brand. I’ve been so privileged to be part of a movement of passionate people who are making our beautiful city a better place, and Sally is a perfect example of that.