November 20, 2012

7,000 Cupcakes for Breeders' Cup

What event could possibly need close to 7,000 cupcakes?  BREEDERS’ CUP of course!! 

A couple of weeks ago we had the honor of being named the Official Cupcake for the Breeders’ Cup which came to Santa Anita Park this year for the 2012 Championships.  Now, if you are a huge fan of horse racing you know how big of an event this has become.  Over 90,000 fans came in from all over the world to watch these incredible horses race this year in 15 World Championships and over $25 million dollars in purses!  And nothing says a celebration like having an official Breeders’ Cupcake to finish! 

A few months ago, I decided to reach out to Santa Anita Park to ask them if they would be interested in having our creations at their track as we had won the Kentucky Derby episode of Cupcake Wars and the horse races were such an amazing experience for me I wanted to be involved!   They told me about this big race coming up and forwarded my info to the Breeders’ Cup.  Luckily I received a call the very next day from an executive of the Breeders’ Cup, Peter Rotondo.  Over the next couple of months, Peter and his associate Molly visited our store to not only pick flavors, but colors, and designs for the Official Cupcake.  Finally we had it!  This years Official Breeders’ Cupcake was going to be a Blueberry LemonDrop with a cute purple flower on top to not only represent the colors of the race but also the winning flowers! 
What’s next??  Little did I know or expect an email to come in one day with a full layout of the orders that were to be delivered and set up for “the week”!  I was absolutely in shock when I opened the attachment to find an order for close to 7,000 cupcakes!!!  But as many of you know, I can do it!  I will make anything possible and I will work my butt off to make it as seamless for our client as possible.  So I went into strategy mode.  I decided we would have to close our store for the week of Breeders’ Cup to make sure we took care of them the way this elegant horse race should be taken care of (and to keep me sane).  Our deliveries started at 4:45am and some days we would end at 10pm at night for the parties.   We got to be involved with every aspect of the Breeders’ Cup events and by the end of the week, everyone knew and had tasted these cupcakes. 

Here is a look at what we did over the week:
5 days of track deliveries for the Breakfast Marquee, Draw Reception Party, Jocktails, Deliveries to both hosting hotels at The Huntington Langham and Westin Pasadena daily, Winner’s Circle Party, Mayor’s Mansion Halloween Bash, NBC Trailer deliveries, BC Corporate Trailers deliveries, Taste of the World hosted by Bobby Flay and The Taste of LA at the track.

One of my favorite events had to be the Taste of the World at The Huntington Library hosted by Bobby Flay!  There were chefs that flew in from all over the world to present a signature dish to represent one of the horse’s countries and right next to them was the official sponsor Grey Goose mixologists to compliment each chef’s meal with a signature cocktail.  We had our cupcakes in the coffee and dessert corner.  I was able to meet some of my favorite chefs including Bobby Flay, Michael Voltaggio, and David Feau. 

Another perk of becoming the Official Cupcake was the PR aspect of things.  I was so grateful when I was called to do NBC Today in LA show at the anchor desk, KTLA, HRTV and another segment of NBC at the track as well as written up in Los Angeles Magazine and a few horse magazines.  I loved representing the Breeders’ Cup for all of these and it was such an honor they asked me to go live on TV for them.  You can watch the clip from NBC here:

Now that Breeders’ Cup is over, I feel a little sad to see it go, but I am so thankful for the opportunity it gave me along with some of the most amazing people I met from the BC Corporate people, the PR agencies, the media folks, all the way to the horse owners, jockeys, and fans!  All of you made us at Goodie Girls so happy and we hope to see you all again next year for Breeders’ Cup 2013!

I would like to take this time to thank HUGELY all of my staff who put in more than enough hours to completely cupcakes, going to the events, and making everything run so smooth for us (Rebecca, Margo, Giselle, and Danielle).  I would like to thank Peter Rotondo and Molly McGill of Breeders’ Cup for believing in us and selecting us to represent BC 2012.  I would like to thanks both PR agencies and Event Planning Companies Elise Freimuth from PMK BNC, Samantha Seier from Karlitz & Company, and Greg Ball from Brener Zwikel & Associates.  And last but definitely not least, my wonderful family who always lends a helping hand whenever needed – Anthony, Steph, and Dad – THANK YOU!  You all made this such an amazing time for me and I could not have done this without each and every one of you!

Here are a few more of my favorite pix from this week:

September 21, 2012

Behind the Scenes Live on KTLA

Happy Friday all you Sweet fans!

This past week we were so lucky to be asked to go Live on KTLA Morning News with Allie Mackay to talk a little about our business and how fortunate we have been to have an amazing kitchen such as the Chefs Center in Pasadena to be able to help what was once a small start up company to thrive in today’s economy without having the overhead of building out a kitchen and also giving us the opportunity to have a support team in place to start.  Unfortunately, when we scheduled the interview I didn’t realize I was actually going to be out on my 10th year anniversary with my husband in Maui so I turned the interviews over to my Sweet Team Margo, Rebecca, and Stephanie and I was so thrilled and impressed with the girls screening!  They really captured Goodie Girls just as I would have!  If you missed the show, you can watch all 3 segments here:

If you are familiar at all with our store, most of you know we do not bake in house.  We go to our kitchen at Chefs Center at 4:30am, bake up a storm, and transport everything to our store by 10:30am to open our doors! 

Before I went on Cupcake Wars, I never knew Cupcakes were going to consume my life!  After we filmed the 1st Cupcake Wars that we won, I knew this was what I wanted to do and I am the type of person who HAS to do what I love and give it my all.  So I started researching how I could make this all happen at a slower pace since I was still working a full time job.  I came across a couple different kitchens, but none of them compared to Chef’s Center across the board for me.  It’s conveniently located, not in the middle of a traffic bound area, it has a large open kitchen with the ability to have a private kitchen as well, it has rental storage space to keep all your goods there instead of transporting pans everyday, there are knowledgeable chefs on staff who can really help you learn the business side of things, and so much more.   The best part is you can rent it by the hour for $25/hr!!  So no monthly fees, no leases to sign, and yet you get an entire licensed kitchen to work from!   This was heaven.  So I started up at Chefs Center. 

My first few times I went were to do some charity work jobs I had gotten.  Then Larry from Chefs Center approached me and asked if we would like to be a part of their Friday Food Fairs.  At Chefs Center, they have these Food Fairs on Fridays that have rotating food trucks and then allow all the vendors who cook at the kitchen an opportunity to sell their products to the public.  This was amazing as it was the first time I would have a “store front” feel where I could set up my display how I would like and really see how people react to our cupcakes and also see how well they would sell.  And to be able to be a part of these trucks like the Grilled Cheese Truck, Slammin Sliders, and Coolhaus who have so many followers who could say no?  After the first Food Fair I was sold!  People were going crazy over our flavors and we kept getting asked “Where’s Your Storefront”?   I thought….storefront??  Oh yeah!  Lets do that!  Haha… so my husband and I without any hesitation went for it.  We lived in Glendale at the time and I was always in love with this building across the street.  I knew it was the PERFECT spot.  So one things led to another and within a week I had a store…well an empty shell, but I could see it all glammed up with pink and crystal chandeliers!  So for the next few months, we built the store out.  This is where Chefs Center REALLY helped me as well.  I decided to do a pre-packaged only store front and still continue to bake at Chefs Center.  This saved me thousands of start up dollars AND it was much less stressful to deal with all the permits and Health Department.  I chose to do it this way because I had never owned a food service store before and I really wanted to get a feel for what it would be like, test out recipes, get a marketing plan together, get my merchandise set, logo’s, test out what works as far as boxes and bags …. This was the perfect route to be able to really get a solid store running without having to feel in debt.  I also chose to have my store a little hidden as well to not have an overwhelmingly line outside my door (although always appreciated!!) immediately so I could get used to working a register, figure out how much product I would need daily so I wasn’t wasting or undercutting, etc. 

Now I am proud to say…we are opening store #2 in La Canada, Calif. In January 2013!!  This one IS in a shopping center and we are ready for the high traffic and high volume. 

My biggest advice to anyone starting a food business (online, wholesale, or storefront), come to Chefs Center (if you are local) or find a kitchen similar in your area and see what they can offer you.  It’s much easier to figure out what works and what doesn’t when you aren’t strapped in and in debt to begin with.  I will always thank everyone at Chefs Center for all their help and allowing me and my team to pursue our dreams!  There is no better feeling in the world than to do what you love to do! 

If any of you ever have any questions, I am always here to help!  You can email me at

For more info on Chefs Center please visit:

Here are more photos from our appearance Behind the Scenes:

August 6, 2012

"How To" make the Official ParaNorman Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I received a call from Focus Features.  Now as many of you probably would be...I was SUPER excited!  What could they want with me?  Well....they asked me to be the one to create the Official ParaNorman inspired CUPCAKE!!  Without any hesitation of course I said YES!  Even without knowing any details.  :)

Over the next few weeks I worked closely with Focus Features in creating the perfect inspired cupcake.  They even sent us to a Private Screening of the movie a couple weeks prior to the release so we could get a feel for the characters and truly become inspired.  Let me first just say the movie was super cute.  I recommend all of you to go see it when it comes out August 17th!  

After seeing the movie, I definitely became inspired.  However, a lot of you know that I am a very simple decorator.  I don't do tons of fondant pieces and work.  I don't sculpt things. I tend to stay on the simple elegance and let the cupcake still shine through.  With this, I knew I had my job cut out for me as I didn't want to disappoint, but I also wanted to stay true to represent a cupcake that I would really do in my store.  

After a road trip to Las Vegas with my assistant baker Rebecca, we tried the entire trip to figure out the perfect cupcake.  We went over different options and variations.  Our heads were spinning.  Then when we got back from Vegas, we had the most relieving phone call....Focus Features actually made Cupcake Kits to use!!!  This was HEAVEN!  They made a Norman cookie cutter, ParaNorman cupcake liners, toothpick characters and even edible frosting discs with scenes on them.  Our task was now much clearer. We had to create a cupcake using the items they created AND a cupcake using these items but putting a "Goodie Girl" twist on it.  

So I went back to the drawing board and decided that I needed to come up with something that kids could really do.  I didn't want to make anything over complicated.  I wanted this to be fun for the whole family to be able to create...even down to the kids!  Aha...I had it!

After deciding on the idea, I was then asked to come to the Press Junket for ParaNorman at the Hyatt Century City Plaza this past weekend to not only be filmed/photographed for the "How To" shots, but also to be able to attend the junket, take pictures with the scenes from the actual film, and meet a lot of the people behind the movie.  What a treat!  I think my favorite part was seeing the set.  It is the most incredible thing I have ever seen.  I couldn't believe how tiny everything was and to learn how they made it all and that it took over 3 years to make this movie...just INCREDIBLE!  

So without further ado ..... I present the "How To" make your very own ParaNorman Cupcakes!  ENJOY!  Oh and if you are in the Glendale area on opening week (August 14th - August 19th) we will have these scrumptious cupcakes in store to purchase!  Bring the kids in and have a ParaNorman Treat!!  Oh and a huge THANK YOU to Focus Features for having myself and Goodie Girls Cupcakes represent your brand and movie.  It was an honor!

"How To" make the Official ParaNorman Cupcakes:

What you will need: Your ParaNorman Cupcake Kit.  Your favorite baked cupcakes.  A white based frosting.  Green food coloring. Purple Sanding Sugar.  Yellow Rock Candy Sugar.  Disco Dusts in the following colors: Gold, Black, and Royal Purple.  A small bowl of Water.  A small Bone Cookie Cutter.  Fondant roller.  Silpat.  Parchment Paper.  Brown Fondant.  A standard small paint brush.  A fan paint brush.  Piping bag.  Ateco #809 Round tip (or you may use a butter knife/spatula).

Step 1: Make your favorite white based frosting and tint the frosting any shade of your favorite green for ParaNorman.

Step 2: To make the frosting sheet decorations, cut out a round piece of fondant with a same size cookie cutter round as the frosting sheet in the ParaNorman Cupcake Kit.  To apply the frosting sheet to the fondant, dampen the fondant slightly with a little water and peel the frosting sheet from it's backing.  Gently place the frosting sheet on the fondant and smooth out with your fingers.  Set aside on a piece of Parchment Paper to dry for 24 hours or until the fondant becomes hard.  Tip: place frosting sheets in freezer to allow easier ability to peel the frosting sheet from the backing.

Step 3: Chef Annette Starbuck's assembly: frost the cupcake using a round frosting tip (you may also use a butter knife or spatula to frost if you do not have a round tip).  Once frosted, but before the frosting dries, place your dried fondant piece on top.  

Step 4: To make Norman's head cut out, roll out a brown piece of fondant.  Use the Norman cookie cutter in the ParaNorman Cupcake Kit and cut.  Place fondant piece on Parchment Paper and allow up to 24 hours to dry or until fondant hardens.

Step 5: Chef Annette Starbuck's assembly: Frost your favorite baked cupcake (Tip: bake your cupcakes in a normal cupcake liner and place the cupcakes once baked in a ParaNorman liner) with your green frosting in a round tip (you may also use a butter knife or spatula if you do not have a round tip).  Once frosted, but before frosting dries, place the hardened Norman head on top.

To make Chef Annette Starbuck's Official ParaNorman Cupcake:

Step 1: To make the ParaNorman sign, roll out brown fondant.  Brush fondant lightly with water.  Place the frosting sheet provided in the ParaNorman Cupcake Kit on top of the brown fondant.  Take a small bone cookie cutter (or a cutter of your choice) and cut out the ParaNorman Logo.  Place the cut out on a piece of Parchment Paper to dry for 24 hours or until hardened.  

Step 2: To make Chef Annette Starbuck's signature Norman head, roll out brown fondant.  Once rolled, cut out Norman's head with the provided Norman cookie cutter from your ParaNorman Cupcake Kit.  Brush fondant gently with water.  Dust the Norman head with gold Disco Dust.  Allow to dry on Parchment Paper for 24 hours or until hardened.

Step 3: Frost your favorite baked Cupcake with your ParaNorman green frosting using a piping bag and large round tip.  (Chef Annette Starbuck uses an Ateco #809).

Step 4: Once frosted, add yellow rock candy and purple sanding sugar to make a mound for Norman to stand on.

Step 5: Chef Annette Starbuck's assembly: Take your Cupcake frosted with the ParaNorman green frosting topped with your sugars and place the Gold Disco Dusted Norman head towards the back standing up.  Place Norman's friends toothpicks in back of the Norman head sticking out.  This will also help keep Norman's head in the upright position.  Place the ParaNorman sign cutout right in front of the sugars on the frosting.  Place the Norman toothpick on top of the sugars.  To finish the cupcake "Goodie Girls" style, dust the top with Royal Purple and Black Disco Dusts for the added sparkle!  And that is how Chef Annette Starbuck from Goodie Girls Cupcakes makes the Official ParaNorman Cupcake.