Book Review "Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan"

Author: Hollis Wilder
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Release Date: April 9, 2013

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Living in the Orlando, FL area and being a fan of cupcakes, it is hard not to know who Hollis Wilder is. Who is Hollis Wilder? Besides owning her chain of cupcake stores, Sweet! By Holly. She is also the first two-time champion of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”. My family makes frequent trips to her store in order to get our fill of amazing cupcakes. “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan” is a next natural step forward for her career. Since she is know for her work with a cupcake pan, she brings forward ideas for other exciting mini meals to be made the same way. I can easily see Hollis with her own shot on Food Network in the next few years…mark my words.

When I took a flip through the book, at first glace there were tons of recipe titles that immediately had more drooling. But one thing that really bothered me was the lack of photos. There was a lot of white space with snazzy designs that could have easily been replaced with Tina Rupp’s amazing photography. Since these recipes are a little more custom than the typical meals, I think it is almost necessary to get an idea of what the final product should look like. Also in general, I am just a visual person. I was easily drawn to the recipes that had photos and passed over others that didn’t at first glance. This doesn’t just come from me though, my wife even took the book for a spin and said the exact same thing. But still, there are 100 very unique and some basic recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am surprised to see nothing in the dessert department, I do not mean cupcakes but something to satisfy that sweet tooth after dinner.

I liked the idea behind these recipes. Hollis wanted to find a way to assist in avoiding overeating. We had a chance to chat with Hollis and she said referred to this technique of cooking as “living life in portions”. Here is our full interview, check it here. These meals are also easy and perfect to make ahead of time and freeze for the week. This comes in handy for my wife and I. We have a 10 month old daughter and don’t always have time to make elaborate meals each night. Some of our favorite recipes and must-eats are the following Wafflinis; Savory Apple Tarts; Mexican Breakfast Rolls; Beef Stroganoff; Turkey, Apple & Sweet Potato Pies (my favorite so far); Chicken Apple Hand Pies; and “Chicken Enchiladas with Andouille Sausage. So to wrap up, I believe that Hollis has developed some really sharp and delicious recipes here. The book itself is missing the visual punch that I was hoping for but it is still recommended to pick up, especially if you are hungry and feeling creative. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! Now if you excuse me I have some cooking to do.

 

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Hollis Wilder talks about cupcakes and her new book "Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan"

Hollis Wilder is the owner of Sweet! by Holly, which is a cupcake shop located in Orlando, FL. She is also a two-time Winner on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”. Besides running a successful business she also does a lot of motivational speaking and is releasing a cookbook in May 2013 called “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan”. Media Mikes had a chance to ask Hollis a few questions about cupcakes as well as her new book.

Mike Gencarelli: When you opened your store, Sweet! by Holly, did you ever think you would be where you are today?
Hollis Wilder: Absolutely not! But in truth I did not plan most of the incredible things that have happened in my life, personally or professionally. What I have gotten far exceeds what I was hoping for!

MG: How does it feel to rank in the The Daily Meal’s Top 50 Cupcakes in America this year?
HW: Always great to get recognition from media sources, but the most important confirmation comes daily from regular customers who like what we are making and keep returning to buy more.

MG: Besides cooking you also deliver motivational talks and presentations to colleges and companiesabout empowerment, success and personal growth; tell us about that side of you?
HW: I speak about how we all need to find our own, “cupcake,” whatever that might be. Trust your inner voice and not the white noise around you. Food is a vehicle for me to communicate what is of value to me and how I try to give back to my community. I try to share the information that I have collected during my own personal journey. I love nothing more than helping others find their own excellence and develop the courage to pursue it.

MG: How did you decide to become an author with “Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan”? Can you give us a sneak preview as to what we can expect from the book?
HW: I was pursued by one of the top publishers in the country, Abrams. Savory meals all prepared in a cupcake pan. It’s all about creating homemade culinary experiences without sacrificing convenience. also, I promote what I call, living life in portions. Instead of dishes that have no beginning or end, like a casserole, I put meals in the perfect portion of a traditional cupcake pan. I am promoting use of the savory bites in our new concept potluxe dinners, a reconstruction of old-fashioned potlucks but with a cutting edge perspective on ingredients and portions. Lots more to come on this as we approach release of the book in May.

MG: What else do you have planning in the cards for 2013?
HW: If i think about all the wonderful projects on my plate for 2013, I get totally overwhelmed. I’ve learned to stay in the moment and do what’s in front of me and things work out. I wrote the cookbook while running a growing business and managing a family with two small children, so basically I was creating meals and testing recipes while everyone was sleeping. This year will no doubt bring more challenges, successes and failures, but in the end I am grateful for all the incredible opportunities I have been given to challenge myself to be the very best Hollis I can be!

Jillycakes’ Jillian Hopke talks about winning Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”

Jillian Hopke is the owner of the Orlando, FL based Jillycakes. She also was the winner of Season 6, Episode 12 of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jillian about her road to victory and how she got started in the business.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how Jillycakes came about?
Jillian Hopke: About 5 years ago I started baking for several of my coworkers, various birthdays and celebrations and each time people were blown away by the cakes and cupcakes. AT that point I was fortunate enough to have a captive audience and I started experimenting with flavors and bringing them to work. While everyone was just happy to have free cake I was able to get them hooked on my product and solicit some free market research in the meantime. When we first started baking for hire many of our clients were, and still are, friends of ours. Up until the moment we were on the show our advertising had been 100% word of mouth. It speaks volumes for your product when you can become so successful just by friends telling friends.

MG: Have you always want to work in this field?
JH: Baking has always been a hobby and a passion for me I never expected or planned to have things get to this magnitude. Growing up we were taught if you do something you should strive to be the best at it. I’m completely self-taught and have been blessed with a natural artistic skill. I can’t express how fortunate I feel that something I love doing has become such a prominent part of my life!

MG: How did you get chosen to compete on “Cupcake Wars”?
JH: I was sent the link to the online casting call by a very good friend of mine Blake. At first I didn’t take him very seriously but, knowing of our years of experience performing for local theme parks, he said “c’mon….we already know you make the best cupcakes PLUS you would make great television”. So I took his advice and wrote from the heart… .I never dreamed they would actually choose us! The very first part of the process was just an essay to submit our application and plead our case. The video audition tape that was requested by our casting agent didn’t come till many months later. All in all it was a casting process spanning nearly two years.

MG: How has winning “Cupcake Wars” affected your company?
JH: Our business has tripled over night. It seems like everywhere we go someone has heard of us so we are now finally becoming a household name. Some clients ordered a cake and brought it out to a local restaurant and their server went nuts when they saw our logo on the box. We also have had to pad our delivery times with a few extra min to accommodate the interviews and photo shoots that happen when we show up to people’s houses…..it’s amazing how many people don’t expect us to show up in person.

MG: How does it feel to be given a chance to come back as an all-star for “Cupcake Wars”?
JH: The response from our fans has been overwhelming. We have fans contacting us from across almost all 50 states as well as 20 countries worldwide. Because Orlando is the tourist capitol of the world we have been able to reach a much broader spectrum of people. We can’t wait to get back on and make our fans proud. Besides….there can’t possibly be a harder secret ingredient than seafood right??!!

MG: How can people get a taste of your work?
JH: Orders can be placed online through our website or by emailing us at orders@jillycakeorlando.com. All orders include free delivery and come conveniently to you whether you live here or are just visiting one of our many resorts and hotels. Due to our current volume of orders a 5 day minimum lead time is advised to be sure we can accommodate the request.

MG: Do you only deliver in Orlando FL?
JH: Right now everything is local delivery but we have been experimenting successfully with some shipping options for our products so you may see Jillycakes available all across America sometime soon. We also can travel to other central Florida locations upon special request.

MG: What does Jillycakes have planned next?
JH: We would like to start by increasing our community outreach and are working on concepts and plans for a retail location to open next year. We also have plans to offer a new type of in home party for all ages with cupcake baking demos and decorating tips. The main goal right now is just continuing to change the way people think about cake to make memorable experiences for them rather than ho hum forgettable celebrations.

 

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Florian Bellanger talks about judging on the Food Network Series “Cupcake Wars”

Florian Bellanger is one of the judges on the Food Network Series “Cupcake Wars”. He is also the owner of Mad Mac Macaroons. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Florian about his work on the show and get some cool behind-the-scenes stories.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you became involved with Food Network Series “Cupcake Wars”?
Florian Bellanger: It is a funny thing. One day I received a message from one of the producers on my Facebook page that they were working on a new show and needed a judge. They sent me a pilot, which they actually still air occasionally. It is the only episode that I am not on board. After they got a decent response from the pilot, Food Network decided to go into production. They wanted someone that was a pastry expert and not from the cupcake world. So I did a few auditions for it and eventually I got the job. The two process took about two months. At the beginning we weren’t sure how the show was going to do, so we only shot eight episodes for season one. We didn’t know that it would be such a success.

MG: Tell us about how you choose your judging style?
FB: When they first hired me they asked “Have your ever watched ‘American Idol’?” I said, sure. They said basically we have a Paula and we are looking for a Simon [laughs]. They asked if I could do a Simon. I told them I could but it would be under some conditions. I don’t want to insult the baker personally. I wasn’t going to tell them that “You are a loser and shouldn’t be here”. Now can I be a tough cookie…yes I can be a tough cookie. Can I insult their food. Of course I can tell them that their food tastes like shit [laughs]. But I won’tattack them personally. The other thing was that I didn’t want the judgings to be staged. I didn’t want an ear piece or anyone telling me what to say or do. I wanted to judge the way I wanted to and speak my mind and be honest. They said that they weren’t looking for that either and were very upfront and honest. We got along very well. 75 episodes to date and I have no regrets at all.

MG: Any fun behind the scenes stories from the show?
FB: Some of my comments don’t make it into the show sometimes, since they were too strong [laughs]. Like “Your cupcake is so small, it looks like a midget cupcake”, they said that they didn’t want to air it so not to upset anyone. I don’t mean anything bad, I just speak my mind and I am French. So sometimes I speak too strong. One day we had a mother and daughter contestant team and they were fighting so bad that the mother walked away right in the middle of the competition. We had a few cooks cut themselves by accident. The cupcakes were covered with blood and that food couldn’t be judged (or eaten), obviously. What you see on TV is really what you get. They really work against the clock. We never stop the clock ever. If they are not done, then they get eliminated…that is it. It is really high pressure environment. We start shooting around 7am in the morning. They have to work and also find time to talk with the cameras as well. It is not only competing, they need to make it into good TV. So there is a nice blend of the TV aspect and the competition aspect. It is a long day for them. For Candace (Nelson) and myself, it is easy. We sit, eat and comment, but we are in the room the whole time.

MG: After each show, the winners always get to go to these parties; why aren’t the judges invited?
FB: Of course since it is TV, they make you think the party is that night. It would be impossible to have the show shoot the same days as the events. On TV, we make it look like they go straight to the parties. They show up at a later date and it makes it more difficult. The winning display is saved but they have to re-bake all of the thousand cupcakes. The day of shooting those cupcakes go to charity. Sometimes the contestants are coming from the East Coast and the party is in Los Angeles. So it is a big of trip sometimes for these contestants.

MG: Tell us about what we can expect from the future of the show?
FB: We just started shooting season seven now, which is pretty cool. Before that we have done seventy-five episodes already. It is amazing. We are shooting another thirteen for season seven. Then probably another thirteen this October. It is doing really well. We are in the top five for the Food Network’s shows, in terms of ratings. Right now Food Network is running thirty-nine episodes a year. I heard but I am not 100% but I hear they want to bring it to fifty-two episodes a year. Which would be one new episodes each week. So that would be very amazing for the show.

Justin Willman talks magic and working on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”

Justin Willman is the host of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”.  His first passion is magic and currently has a web-series on The Nerdist Channel called “Magic Meltdown” and also has an on-going “Tricked Out Tour”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Justin about working on “Cupcake Wars” and get some cool behind-the-scenes stories.

Mike Gencarelli: What do you enjoy most about hosting “Cupcake Wars”?
Justin Willman: I love being a part of the show since it has such a wide fan base. Of course there are the adults that love watching “Cupcake Wars”. It is one of those few shows that has a broad family appeal that parents can watch with their kids since it has a little something for everybody. I really like broad appeal and being able to expand my own fanbase to a really wide one.

MG: How did this opportunity come up for you work on this show?
JW: I was a correspondent on “The Rachel Ray Show” for a couple of years, which was my first regular hosting gig. Through that I was exposed the culinary world. I would cover different food events for her. I never had any connection between the food world before and between you and me…I can’t cook [laughs]. Through that I was able to get into the world and when this audition came along, I was in the right place at the right time.

MG: You seem to have a lot of fun on the show; any cool behind-the-scenes stories?
JW: Let me think here. The show is very dramatic but you can see at times we are having a lot of fun and we really do. I get to hang out with Florian and Candace all day. They are sitting all day, actually they sit and I am standing while they bake. We got to become really close friends and have a lot of fun. I think the one behind-the-scenes nugget that I can give you is that Florian is not intimidating in person as he is on the show. He takes cupcakes very seriously but he is just a big teddy bear.

MG: Did you wear the kilt the whole episode during the Disney/Pixar “Brave” episode?
JW: The whole time! It was one of the most comfortable outfits. I was able to move around very freely. The kilt had a little built in pocket in the front, which was perfect for my phone. When we weren’t rolling I was able to catch up on emails and Angry Birds.

MG: You get to eat any of the cupcakes?
JW: One of my most commonly asked questions is “Do I get to eat the cupcakes”. I don’t on camera. But Candace will rarely finish her own cupcake. usually I get to eat whatever she doesn’t eat. If it is a great cupcake, I have to try it but if it is horrible sometimes I have to try that also just to see.

MG: When can we expect some new episodes of “Cupcake Wars”?
JW: We should be airing news episodes currently every Sunday. Then are shooting now for our seventh season with 13 more episodes coming this Fall!

MG: Tell us about your new series “Magic Meltdown”?
JW: Obviously I have been doing magic since I was 12. It is my first passion and it is what I love doing most. The Nerdist channel, which hosts “Magic Meltdown”, gave me this chance to do this street magic series with a comedic edge to it. It was a chance to finally put out my own brand of comedy magic. It has been great. We have done 6 episodes so far out of 15. New episodes air every Friday.

MG: Tell us about your on-going “Tricked Out Tour”?
JW: Honestly, there is nothing that makes me happier than performing on stage for a live audience. This Fall, I have a couple of tour stops. Next year, I am putting together a whole theater tour, hopefully all over the country. Coming to a theater near you! I hope all the “Cupcake Wars” fans come out and get a chance to meet me in person.