Red Bench Bakery: Passionate about Pastries

Red Bench Bakery brings French-style treats to the Southwest Metro.

Andy Mooney was born with a rolling pin in his hand. The pastry chef and owner of Red Bench Bakery in Chaska loves to tell people, “‘I’ve wanted to do this for the last 20 years.’ I’m only 34.”

Growing up in Woodbury, his mother worked as a pastry chef at a local restaurant, “so I would go with her all the time when I was like 8 years old and go bake with her,” he says. At the age of 12, the staff started giving him small tasks. He made his way onto the payroll and worked his way from the pantry to prep to line cook. His high school job was at a coffee shop that made pastries. “I’d be up at 4:30 in the morning to go [make pastries], and then I’d go to school,” he says.

After spending a few of his adult years working in restaurants, Mooney started to wonder if he could take his pastry hobby and turn it into a profession. “There’s only one way to find out,” he said. He studied at the French Pastry School in Chicago and graduated in 2007, “and it’s been 10 years now, and it’s worked out,” Mooney says.

Mooney worked in renowned bakeries and restaurants throughout the Twin Cities before deciding to open Red Bench in 2017. His focus there is breakfast pastries, but don’t you dare ask him for a doughnut. “My specialty is what the French call viennoiserie, which is your laminated doughs—your sweet breads, brioche, cinnamon rolls, stuff like that,” he says. But that can be savory, too. “We will also have breakfast sandwiches,” he says, and a signature ham and cheese croissant made with smoked ham and Taleggio cheese inside, topped with Gruyère cheese.

But if you’re looking for a chef-recommended item, “I always say a chocolate croissant. It’s my favorite thing in the world,” he says (with a cup of their Bull Run coffee), followed by every other item on the menu. “It’s hard. I have such a passion for what I make that I literally love every single thing.”

And with his new “office” just five minutes from his home in Carver, Mooney has more time for that passion. Distance was just one of the reasons he chose this building—another being the building’s history. (Read about the building’s rich history in our Noteworthy section on page 8.) The brick walls add a classic aesthetic, and the literal red bench sitting outside in the summer is an Instagrammer’s dream. “That’s our mascot,” Mooney says. He found it on Etsy after deciding on the name (which has no special meaning, aside from maybe the fact that he’s a red head).

Mooney has managed to keep growing in an industry with a high burnout rate, and it’s clear that’s due to his passion. “When somebody takes a bite of, say a chocolate croissant, for the first time, seeing their eyes light up—nothing can beat that,” he says.