The sixth season of Netflix’s Queer Eye, which was set in Austin, featured quite a few faces familiar to the local restaurant world, but episode 9, “A Legend in the Baking,” centered on a makeover of Sarah Lim, who is the owner of adorable bakery OMG Squee. The Fab Five spent time with Lim to refresh her vintage style, connect her to the Asian restaurant community, and, in a reversal of the show’s norm, learn her tricks for decorating.
Lim shared the insider details of her experience in an interview conducted over email with Eater. Read on to learn how being on the show has affected her business, which member of the Fab Five impacted her the most, and why she’s still not on Goldbelly.
Eater: How did you feel when you first saw the Fab Five?
Sarah Lim: My first introduction to the Fab Five was Tan France being shoved through our old pickup window by the others, which made me start laughing. They’re a pretty fun and rowdy bunch. But also, super nice.
What was your experience on the show?
The experience was a rollercoaster of emotions, but overall, it was really fun getting to know the Fab Five and the crew who make the television magic possible. I rarely get a lunch hour out of the kitchen, let alone a week off, and there are a few off-screen moments that I’ll always remember, like Tan and I talking about our favorite things to bake. He really is the loveliest human.
But the show is like a big trust fall. It asks a lot of you in vulnerability and openness, but you have to be ready and know that they’re going to catch you in the end. I had no idea how things would ultimately turn out, or if they’d, like, shave my head, for example (jk, Jonathan Van Ness would never), so I think it would be a challenging experience for most people.
[At the bakery], we struggled during the pandemic, and it felt like the days when we were our most worn-down were the days we’d find the most unkind people. With the Black Lives Matter movement and a rise in Asian American and Pacific Islander hate crimes, it was a challenging time to be a person of color and a restaurant owner, while still being a regular person. I’m generally very jovial, but it’s hard to feel just fine about everything and still go to work and do our jobs. I’m fairly private and reserved, but with this amazing opportunity, I thought it was important to be open about my experiences, even if they were emotionally challenging for me to talk about. So I definitely went through a gamut of emotions throughout the show.
Who was the most impactful of the Fab Five to work with?
I got a little bit of wisdom or a self-care routine from each of the Fab Five, but probably Antoni Porowski and Bobby Berk have had the largest overall impact.
Antoni still reaches out to check on me and send me words of encouragement. I think that’s sweet of him to take time out of his busy life to check on my progress and how I’m doing as a person, outside of the business.
Bobby and his design team helped give us a beautiful counter and patio space that sort of helped us “grow up” as a business. I appreciate that they were able to see many of the ideas we had in our original, super low-budget, DIY builds, and really grateful that they were able to bring them to fuller life than we would have imagined. We had such limited resources, money, and time on our own. We were already running our bodies into the ground just to keep the business afloat. The amount of work they accomplished in only a few days is still mind-blowing.
Karamo Brown also reminded me to breathe, Tan’s warmth and kindness will stay with me forever, and Jonathan REALLY hooked me up so I can do some small self-care every day with what very limited time I have for myself. They all had a big impact, even in just the little things.
What are the main lessons you took away from your experience? What have been the lasting changes?
My main takeaway was that there are people out there who are supportive and invested in what we’re doing, and we’re not alone. We’ve had quite a few people reach out with their stories of similar struggles, so it’s good for us — and hopefully them — to not feel like we’re on an island. I’ll be forever grateful to each of the Fab Five and crew from Queer Eye for that.
Is OMG Squee on nationwide food shipping service Goldbelly, a move that was discussed in the episode?
Unfortunately, we couldn’t make a partnership with Goldbelly work at this time. After months of trying to work with their packaging team for a viable shipping solution, we realized the need for custom packaging. So shipping won’t be an option for us until I have time and resources to invest in research and development for custom packaging.
We also have a really small team and kitchen to factor in, but as our team grows, I’m definitely working on shipping options for the future. We just want to make sure all our customers get the same quality product and fun experience they would in person, because we care a lot.
Has being on the show affected business?
We’ve already had tons of requests from people all over the world asking for our classic pink OMG Squee tees, since they can’t come into the bakery in person. There are already knock-off websites for them, which kind of sucks, but is also sorta flattering?
But it is a great feeling that people want to support us however they can. We’ll have more merch drops coming soon, but meanwhile, our original and authentic pink tees can be ordered online only directly from us on our website. They’re currently on backorder until the end of Jan, but people can follow our Instagram for updates.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.