Salamat Cookies founder Michael Williams II started baking sweets to pay his rent when his photography career came to a pandemic standstill. He enlisted his Filipina mother, Odie, and the two began an Indianapolis-based bakery using traditional ingredients from the Philippines such as ube, pandan and macapuno creating American-Pan Asian fusion cookies. Since then, the enterprising duo have used social media to sell their delicious Indy-made products at pop-ups from coast to coast and online while introducing Southeast Asian elements to a legion of fans.
What made you want to become a baker?
I always had a dream of becoming that cool soccer dad that brings homemade cookies to practice. With the pandemic, it gave me time to learn from my mom how to bake. I consider myself a baker now, and I’m currently learning how to bake even more traditional Filipino pastries.
What’s your favorite type of food and why?
If I had to narrow it down, Thai and sushi. Both are full of flavor and have many interesting, desirable textures.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere – my family, my community, random thoughts and through meditation. I don’t consider the ideas that pass through me to be my own; I just feel blessed to see them and execute the ones that bring me excitement and purpose.
What is your favorite thing to make for yourself and family?
I enjoy the time and solitude I get by preparing my breakfast every morning. It consists of old-fashioned oats, hemp hearts, chia seeds, whole psyllium husk, raw honey, peanut butter, virgin coconut oil and dark chocolate, topped with granola and new fresh fruits weekly to switch things up. When it comes to cooking for the family, I actually enjoy baking non-Salamat cookies and other pastries. My Filipino specialty is Pancit Palabok that I learned how to prepare from my Lolo (grandfather).
If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would that be and what would you eat?
I’m thankful that I’ve been to 34 countries in my thirty-five years. I’ve been able to enjoy cuisine from all over the world. Growing up in an African-American/Filipino household, I was exposed to many cultural dishes but there was one place, it would be from Central Africa.
If you could choose a favorite place in Indiana to visit, where would that be located and what would you eat?
It would be downtown [Indianapolis] for sure. So many new food businesses popping with so many options to enjoy, all within a five- or 10-minute drive or walk when you’re downtown.
What items are always in your fridge?
Eggs. There’s nothing like heating cooking oil and dropping a couple right as the oil begins to smoke. You get these delightfully flaky edges to your eggs. You’ll also always find sweet pickles (gherkins), hummus, cream cheese for bagels and a Tetra Pak of coconut water.