LSU Alumna Baking Treats at NYC’s Levain Bakery

BATON ROUGE - Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing a line of people at the famed New York City bakery Levain wasn’t an unusual sight.

“I go back and forth on what makes us an essential business. These are hard times, and people cope with getting sweets. If the one thing we can do for people is to give them a smile from a cookie, then so be it,” said LSU graduate Alexis Ryder. 

Alexis Ryder stands in front of Levain Bakery in New York City
Photo Credit: Alexis Ryder

Ryder knows this feeling and reaction well as a baker at the company’s Upper East Side location.

“It makes me happy to know that the things that I bake, make people so happy,” Ryder said.

Her love for baking started as a young girl at home with her family in Oberlin, La.

“In the beautiful Louisiana culture, you’re raised in the kitchen with your mom and your grandma, who are teaching you how to cook, and how to keep your culture. I’ve been in the kitchen since I was really small, and I always enjoyed baking,” she said.

Now her baking takes place more than a thousand miles away from home.

“My work day starts at 5:30 in the morning, putting all the cakes and the muffins in the oven, and baking bread for that day,” Ryder said.

Before moving to the Big Apple, Ryder majored in communication studies at LSU. 

“My brother went to LSU. I have cousins who went to LSU. We are a big LSU family,” Ryder said. “I still remember when I learned that I got into LSU: it was the morning of homecoming, and I got an email that said, ‘Congratulations on your early acceptance,’ and it just felt right.”

During her junior year, Ryder started working at CounterspaceBR, a Baton Rouge bakery owned by LSU alumna Sarah Joy Hays. Ryder credits that friendship and mentorship to her career success.

“She’s the sole reason of why I’m at Levain right now. I knew I always wanted to live in New York City, so after I graduated in 2019, I landed a job there and moved. After the first day, I knew that job wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Ryder said. “I was talking to Sarah Joy every day, who reminded me I’m a baker, I live in New York City, and she asked me why I don’t work at Levain? I didn’t think they would ever hire me. But Sarah Joy pushed me, so I decided to send them an email.”

Two years since that email, Ryder said she’s looking forward to continuing to work for the company, bringing treats to customers.

“I wake up every day annoyed about being awake at 4 a.m., but also really thankful to be going to a job that I enjoy, and to work with people that I consider family,” Ryder said. “Maybe one day I’ll open my own bakery in New Orleans.”



Contact Rachel Holland
LSU Media Relations