By Janee Law
Ben Borgognone began developing his craft as a pastry chef when he was 8 years old, working in his father’s Brooklyn pastry shop, Alba.
His father, Frank, set the bar high and trained him to work hard. The young Borgognone assumed many roles, including porter, counterperson, delivery boy and decorator, before finally working his way to the top.
Borgognone, now 54, has owned his own business, Buttercooky Bakery, for the past 25 years. And he’s expanded the business to Suffolk, with the most eastern location of the chain opening in Huntington last year.
The 495 New York Ave. bakery offers European-style pastries, delectable desserts and specialty cakes. Borgognone’s specialties include breakfast pastries, cakes, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, pastries, cupcakes, mousse cakes and more.
Customers can also have cakes customized or request a 3-D fondant cake for all types of occasions, including birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, bridal and baby showers, weddings, and graduations.
Borgognone, of Manhasset, said all items are made in-house with fresh ingredients, including the popular fruit salad cakes and tres leches cake.
“We use only the freshest ingredients, fresh heavy cream, fresh fruit, the best chocolate, where we go out and buy Belgium chocolate, and real butter,” a necessity, Borgognone said. “The butter gives a different flavor, with better consistency and quality.”
As his skills and passion for the business continued to grow during his high school years, Borgognone said he decided he was going to pursue a career in the baking industry while attending Lafayette High School in Brooklyn.
“Although I didn’t go to culinary school I really educated myself, along with what my father taught me,” he said. “I did a lot of research and read a lot of French pastry books, and then took the information from that, changed a bit and made my own creations.”
Graduating from Lafayette in 1982, Borgognone continued his education at New York Institute of Technology on a football scholarship, majoring in hotel and restaurant management.
Shortly after, he landed himself a job as assistant pastry chef at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. He later worked at his uncle’s pastry shop, Veniero’s, in the East Village.
In 1995, Borgognone made his dreams a reality and bought Buttercooky Bakery in Floral Park. He kept the bakery’s original name and trademarked its motto, “Baked with butter, makes it better.”
He decided to take the business farther east, opening up a second location in Manhasset in 2004 and then the third location in Huntington in September 2017.
Buttercooky Bakery has moved into the 7,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Reinwald’s Bakery for nearly 30 years.
Borgognone said he brought on a lot of Reinwald’s workers, and kept the traditional Reinwald’s doughnuts.
Borgognone’s son, Francesco, has played a big role in opening the Huntington location, and the pair hopes to expand the business into wholesale.
And while he does want to expand the business, Borgognone hasn’t sought limelight in the process. He’s been asked twice to show off his skills on reality television, but has twice refused.
“I like doing what I’m doing. I like to be under the radar, and I want my product to speak for itself,” he said. “At the time, I felt it would take me away from my business, which really needs my time. Huntington needs my attention right now.”
Borgognone added that his goal is to gain the confidence of the Huntington and Suffolk communities.
“I want the people to give me an opportunity,” Borgognone said. “If they come in here and sample the product and give us a shot I think they’ll be pleased with what I’m trying to achieve here.”