Deborah Im, Owner, Love at First Bite Bakery, Berkeley, CA - interview

Name: Deborah Im
Title: Baker-Owner
Location: Berkeley, CA
URL: coming soon

When did you open your bakery and why did you open it?

We opened May 14, 2005. I opened it because it has always been my dream to open a
bakery (and more so, to open it in Berkeley, my fave college town). I love baking and I love baking for other people, and I came across a cute spot that I thought would be the perfect place for my dream bakery.

What role in the Berkeley/Bay Area bakery scene does your bakery play?

Well...Berkeley is a hard area to have an old-fashioned bakery that actually uses butter, sugar, eggs and is not carb-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher, etc. My goal is to bring old-fashioned goods to the bay area. While there is a great
French bakery a block away and a few other bakeries close by, we differentiate
ourselves by using the finest, premium ingredients such as Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon vanilla, Schokinag chocolate, Vietnamese cinnamon, etc. to make the kinds of baked items that are so hard to find nowadays - cupcakes made with real butter, vanilla buttercream made with real (not artificial) vanilla, banana pudding with Nilla wafers, red velvet cake, etc. I think quality ingredients really do make all the difference.

Why do you think cupcakes are so popular with adults and kids today?

For adults, nostalgia. For kids, it's the perfect-sized cake. But generally for both adults and kids, cupcakes are great because each one can be individualized (some like sprinkles, some like blue frosting, some like chocolate frosting, etc.) and because there is something so...perfect about a cupcake - they just seem like they were made "just for me." And of course, a cupcake causes much less damage than a whole cake...another reason is that cupcakes often lend themselves to having more frosting per cake part than a slice of cake. Do you do special cupcakes for holidays or special events? Yes - we do custom decorations by request and will also have
holiday cupcakes such as red, white and blue cupcakes for July 4, baseball decorations all summer, etc.

Do you get lots of wedding orders?

People have asked about wedding cakes, and we've also gotten some interest regarding wedding cupcakes.

What's the most wild/outrageous cupcake creation you've made?

I don't know about wild or outrageous, but my pumpkin bliss cupcakes are pretty darn good - pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting. Also, the razzle dazzle
(Madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcakes with raspberry buttercream) is really really good. The raspberry buttercream is awesome.

How often do you eat cupcakes?

Mmm...about 4-5 a week. Sometimes I just eat frosting.

What's the best thing about cupcakes?

Cupcakes make people happy.

What's your favorite type of cupcake?

Depends on my mood...I like pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, carrot with cream cheese frosting, vanilla with raspberry buttercream, devil's food with mocha
frosting...but sometimes a bourbon vanilla cupcake with bourbon vanilla frosting hits the spot.

How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?

Cupcakes are in a class of their own.

Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?

Mmmm...I feel like most things that can be done have already been done with cupcakes.

What's your first cupcake-related memory?

My first baking experience when I was 7 - I baked vanilla cupcakes from a Duncan Hines mix and frosted them with rainbow colored sprinkles.

What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?

Creating new flavor combinations is always fun.