Last week saw that icon of domestic discipline, Martha Stewart, present “cupcake week” on her popular television show, and Santa Monica was certainly represented on the mass media map with the appearance of Amy Berman, master baker and proprietor of Vanilla Bake Shop.
Located on Wilshire Boulevard, Vanilla Bake Shop is certainly a sanctuary of all things sweet, offering everything from the cutest of colorful cupcakes to edible monuments to romantic union, in the form of elaborate wedding cakes, all courtesy of Berman and her team.
The Mirror recently spoke with Berman about what drew her to the creation of cakes. “Ever since I was a little girl with my mom in the kitchen and throughout the years, I would bake for fun on the weekends, and for family. It wasn’t until years later that I decided to follow my passion, and make a career of it.” Berman continued, explaining how she established Vanilla Bake Shop. “I left a great job working for the writing team of a popular TV show, and headed to culinary school to study baking and pâtisserie for nine months.” Berman gained a lot of valuable experience from her dessert catering business, called Amy’s Baby Cakes, which she opened after graduating culinary school, saying that her contacts within the entertainment industry “gave me many customers from the get-go. After catering for a couple years, we expanded and opened Vanilla Bake Shop on July 10, 2007. I still work long hours, six days a week, but it’s worth it because I love what I do.”
So, how does the owner of a bakeshop in Santa Monica get to be a guest on Martha Stewart’s weekly television event? “I was working at the shop one day, and my assistant manager came back to the office to let me know that the “Martha Stewart show was on line 1. We jumped up and down for about 20 seconds, until I answered the phone. They did research on hundreds of cupcake shops in the United States, and ours caught their eye. So, I dropped everything and flew out to New York with a bunch of cupcakes on my lap for Martha to try. Her staff asked me to be on the show to bake with her. It was thrilling, and a dream come true.”
The cupcake that Berman took to the television studio was a Meyer Lemon Raspberry Cupcake, and, although Amy was free to choose whatever she wanted to present, this item was selected because it is no secret that Stewart has a certain penchant for citrus flavors. Berman was confident of a favorable reaction. “It’s our most popular cupcake for weddings, and one of fastest selling at the shop. Its absolutely addictive!” she added.
Given that Vanilla Bake Shop offers a great variety of different baked goods, is there a customer favorite? “Our most popular would be our bite-size cupcakes we call “Cupcake Babies.” Berman told me that people like the idea that these “Babies” are smaller (of course) and are great for parties and special events. She also said that her signature Dessert Shots (chilled layer desserts such as Southern Banana Pudding, Dirt Cake, or Triple Berry Shortcake served in a disposable shot glass) do very well.
When asked if she had ever been invited to create something unique for a customer, she spoke of a recently sculptured wedding cake that looked exactly like four desert cacti for a wedding that took place in Joshua Tree. “Guests at the wedding thought they were real cactus! They were very lifelike and beautiful,” she added.
Vanilla Bake Shop, 512 Wilshire Boulevard, 310.458.6644.