Name: Babette Pepaj (aka Chief Cooker & Caker on BakeSpace.com)
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Television Producer/Web Entrepreneur
Link to site: http://www.BakeSpace.com
How did BakeSpace get started?
The inspiration behind BakeSpace can be traced back to when I was a kid growing up in Michigan. My mother, grandmother and several of their friends used to gather regularly in the kitchen to prepare food and talk… not just about food, but about all sorts of things. As an adult, I began to miss that tradition, and realized that getting together to socialize in the kitchen can be difficult in today’s fast-paced digital world. I created BakeSpace to renew and preserve the time-honored tradition of gathering around the kitchen table.
Being an avid baker, it was only natural that I would create some kind of food site. I had always enjoyed visiting online food forums, but found the process of searching, sharing and adding recipes to be inefficient. It was also difficult to print or catalogue recipes. In addition to spending lots of time on forums, I was also intrigued with the incredible growth of early social networking sites and the already popular recipe database sites.
My plan for BakeSpace was to create a hybrid online community where recipes would be just the beginning, not the end, of the journey. Our slogan from day-one was “Come for the recipes, and stay for the conversation.”
On BakeSpace, you don’t just search for recipes and visit member profiles, you literally swap recipes as you build your network of friends and create your own virtual kitchen. It’s truly a grassroots social-networking site for people who are passionate about cooking and baking.
We launched BakeSpace on August 22, 2006, and by the end of the first day we had more than 400 members. That’s when I became confident that we were on to something. Membership has continued to grow rapidly as we add new features and members build the recipe database.
Do you consider yourself to be a Web 2.0 pioneer?
I don't know if I'd call myself a pioneer, but I'm very proud of what we’re building with the BakeSpace community. It’s a true hybrid site that combines social-networking with recipe sharing in a way that hasn’t been done before. I noticed that after we launched, several of the more established recipe sites started describing themselves as “community sites,” so it looks like we may have helped inspire the old guard to rethink how they describe their member experience.
How often do you eat cupcakes?
Often… perhaps too often. I not only love to eat cupcakes, but I also really enjoy baking them and sharing new recipes with friends. I hold a weekly poker game at my place, and my girlfriends practically inhale my Devil's Food Cupcake with Ganache and Coconut with Almond Cream Cheese cupcakes.
What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?
What’s not to love about a cupcake? I enjoy cake decorating, so I’m a sucker for pretty and fun designs. I especially love frosting and cupcakes that surprise you with a creamy center.
What's your favorite type of cupcake?
Devil's Food Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache.
Favorite place to get cupcakes?
We have several top notch cupcake bakeries here in Los Angeles, but unfortunately I haven’t had time to check them all out. Sprinkles in Beverly Hills is perhaps the best known. They have a heavenly dark chocolate cupcake that more than justifies the long lines. Other local favorites include Joan’s on Third, Auntie Em’s Kitchen, Leda’s, the Backdoor Bakery and Yummy Cupcakes. That said, there’s a BakeSpace member named Garrett who has a recipe for Pomegranate Cupcakes with Tangerine Mascarpone Frosting that’s amazing.
How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?
I’m addicted to all baked goods, but there’s something about cupcakes that makes them special. It’s easy to let your creativity flow when you bake cupcakes, both in terms of ingredients and design. That’s why we based the BakeSpace logo around a cupcake.
Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?
I’d like to see more creative designs in mini cupcake pans, as well as a small version of the mini cupcake holder. The large ones are just too big to store and bring to a party.
Any other thoughts about cupcakes?
Cupcakes are inherently fun, and remind me of warm and happy memories. They’re also one of the least pretentious of all deserts.
Do you have anything else to add?
Kudos to this blog for spreading the word about all things cupcake related. We'd like to invite all your readers to join BakeSpace.com. While the name evokes our love for baking, we also have a large cooking community as well. If anyone has any questions, they can always email me at email@example.com.