How Tembe Denton-Hurst, a Writer and Biscuit Buff, Spends Her Sundays

There was a time when Tembe Denton-Hurst didn’t know a life like hers was possible. In college, she thought she might become a lawyer.

“I used to think that I was going to be the first Black Supreme Court justice, which, obviously, it wasn’t me,” she said.

Who she is now, at 28 years old: a Brooklyn-raised, Queens-based writer at New York magazine’s The Strategist, and a novelist and co-owner of a biscuit delivery company called Sundays Only.

Ms. Denton-Hurst recently visited her alma mater, St John’s University in Queens, to talk to college students who are where she once was: young and unsure of what lies ahead of them. One student asked what she would say to her younger self.

“I was like: ‘I would just say your life is going to be so much more beautiful than anything you could ever imagine. Everything that you want, you’re going to get,’” she said.

For example, her debut novel, “Homebodies,” has a television adaptation in the works. And Ms. Denton-Hurst and her fiancée, Connay Bratton, receive up to 100 orders each week for their homemade biscuits, which they deliver themselves across the city.

“I can’t be idle,” she said. “It’s a Virgo thing. And it’s a Jamaican thing. We have to just constantly be moving, working.”

Productivity, and the tendency to attach one’s worth to it, is part of what “Homebodies” is about. Ms. Denton-Hurst hopes readers learn to question the perpetual hustle.

“It’s OK to just exist,” she said. “You don’t always have to be running, sprinting towards your next destination.”

Ms. Denton-Hurst lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Woodside, Queens, with Ms. Bratton and their cats, Stella and Dakota.

THE NIGHT BEFORE So, to talk about Sunday, I have to talk about Saturday night. Biscuit Sunday starts on Saturday. I handle all of the logistics for the business, and the night before, I’m going through, checking the notes, looking at the spreadsheet, seeing if anybody has any notes for me, whether it’s “This is where you need to deliver” or “This is for a birthday.” I’m writing everybody’s names on bags. Then I try to be in bed before midnight.

BRIGHT AND EARLY I’m up at 6 and Connay has been up since 1:30. Depending on the flavors, we’ll prep those the night before, so if it’s garlic and herb, she’ll make sure all the garlic is done, and if it’s snickerdoodle, then that’s done. But she makes all of the dough the same morning. Our former roommate Allie helps to pack. So Connay tries to be done with the biscuits by the time Allie gets here at 6 a.m. Sometimes Connay will go back to sleep if she can and Allie will pack all the biscuits. We just need to be out of there by 8:30, or that’s the goal.

RUNNING ALL OVER I calculate the route and then we head to the car. We take everything down, and we’re like, “Bye, Allie.” Sometimes we’ll have maybe 20 orders in Brooklyn, but everything is really, really far apart, so we’ll get to about six in an hour. Sometimes we have to go all the way out to Bay Ridge. We’re running all over the city.

JAZZY VIBES As of late, we only go to Chipotle for lunch. That’s what we do. It’s reliable, it’s fast and there’s a ton in the city. I’m also the D.J. We listen to a lot of Marie Dahlstrøm, a lot of Lucky Daye, some Robert Glasper, R&B and jazzy vibes. And then, because it’s Sunday, a lot of times we’ll listen to a solid hour of gospel. We also play punch buggy the whole time. So, that’s a thing.

GIFTS AND GRATITUDE We have the best customers in the whole world. Recently, we’ve been delivering to Broadway, and I don’t know who is ordering these biscuits. We just deliver to the stage door; we don’t know where it goes from there. And people also sometimes give us gifts. Someone gave us Mexican hot chocolate. One of our customers, she’s always like: “Do you guys need anything? Do you want water?” We’re like: “Oh, my God, thank you. Yeah.” One girl was like, “This is on my Brooklyn bucket list.”

OFF THE HOOK We try to wrap around 7 p.m. We eat at home, or sometimes we’ll go out to eat at a local restaurant in Queens. There’s this fish spot in Astoria called Off The Hook Raw Bar & Grill. It’s really good. I’m very new to liking lobster rolls, but I like theirs. They also do a catch of the day and their fried fish is, I kid you not, some of the best fried fish I’ve ever had in my whole entire life. It’s so well seasoned, perfectly salted. It’s just very, very good.

BACK TO NORMAL After that, we are full and we go home. I clean the kitchen because Connay’s been up since Lord knows when. I do all the dishes, wipe everything down, sweep the floor. We just break the kitchen back down so that it’s back to normal for life on Monday.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BEAR Then, since we haven’t really been on our phones all day, sometimes we’ll just have a little parallel moment where I’ll be on one side of the couch, and she lays on the other side of the couch, and we’ll just scroll and text. Maybe we’ll FaceTime our friends, or we’ll watch a movie. I have to watch TV every night to go to bed. I think it’s from being a kid in New York, and not being able to sleep in complete silence. I have a comfort movie that I’ll put on. I’ll watch “Paddington” and I only make it maybe 10 minutes in, and then I just fall asleep. I don’t really know what happens to the bear.


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