A love of baking: an interview with Meg Dawson, Philo Ridge Farm pastry chef

Meg Dawson speaks to Journalism Club students at CCS. Photo by Melissa O’Brien.

It’s 6:30 a.m., an hour before the sun has risen over the hills, and Meg Dawson is in the kitchen preparing for a long day. Meg is the pastry chef at Philo Ridge Farm and she begins her day moving quickly between the oven and the counter, working hard to prepare the baked treats many have come to know and love at the Farm.

Raised in Richmond, Virginia, Meg made her way to Charlotte via Charlottesville, Virginia, and Brooklyn, New York. Meg grew up with her mother and grandmother cooking amazing food for her all the time. “My grandmother had a huge influence on me,” she says. In high school Meg began cooking and working as a waitress, not sure then where any of this would take her. She went to the University of Virginia and earned a degree in religious studies, working in restaurants as a server during her time there.

It wasn’t until after she graduated that Meg began baking and decided to move to New York. There she worked at Bklyn Larder making pastries with Caitlin Daniels whom she names as huge inspiration to her.

Meg describes her love of baking as “the organization and muscle memory of things. It’s a constant learning process. You also get a physical representation of all your hard work.”

After New York Meg moved back to Virginia where she continued to bake. She worked at the Dog and Pig Show a “crazy and fun” place she says. Three years ago Meg decided to move to Vermont to be near family. She worked at Shelburne Farms and at The Great Northern in Burlington. Last March she applied at Philo Ridge Farm, not knowing that her old friend, Francine Stephens, from her Bklyn Larder days, was managing the Farm. “I couldn’t believe they were here in Charlotte!”Meg says with an enormous smile.

Seems the full circle of life caught up with Meg here in Charlotte, baking at Philo Ridge, a job she says she loves, fully.