Cookies, cakes and cupcakes need we say more?
Actually beyond all your standard confections, we were surprised to find booths dedicated to bacon-jerky, tea liqueur and spinach empanadas. The LA CookieCon features events such themed dessert tables, decorating competitions, workshops and of course, copious sampling from vendors all over Southern California and beyond.
We found Beatrice Tsang, owner of Baby Bea’s Bakery at a booth that was covered by multi-colored sprinkles and cups full of brightly tinted icing. As we covered our vanilla cupcakes in a stunning orange and luxurious teal frosting we interviewed the savvy baker.
How did you get started?
I grew up taking baking classes and programs. When I moved to LA, I came here for acting and was working in the event industry, I wanted to find my own way to get into it. Somebody said, “Well you bake and if you make it really pretty, you’ll do well here.” So I started blogging and learning how to decorate. It got pretty popular and took up more of my time then acting did!
I get more calls from studios for my pastries than I ever did as an actress.
Besides cupcakes, is there something else that you enjoy making?
We’re known for our cakes and cookies. Recently in honor of Star Wars we made an R2D2 cake.
What advice do you have for an aspiring baker?
If you’re an aspiring chef you have to decide and be honest with yourself about your business sense. A lot of people think if you’re a great baker that you’re automatically going to have a great business. It’s completely separate.
If I didn’t have a business background I would’ve never gotten this far. To somebody without it, I would recommend linking up with someone who has a business background. Dealing with the permits and insurance, workers comp, your operations, your marketing and your finances, that’s a fulltime job in itself.
Considering how hard it is to be a full-tie baker, what makes it worth it?
Seeing people light up instantly! In this type of work, when we hand it over we get an instant reaction. They either love it or they don’t. You’ll know right then and there
Who’s your celebrity chef crush?
Ina Garten she makes it seem like the most relaxing thing in the world. Every day’s a tea party!
Looking around the convention, it’s no surprise to see how passionate the vendors are about their creations. Constantly smiling in the face of hundreds of sugar-crazed patrons (ourselves included) and singing high-praises of their strangest (white chocolate wasabi cookies) and most delectable fare (peanut butter cookie dough). We walked around in a sugary coma for hours and yet it was over way too soon.
We interviewed Nancy Tei, co-founder of the convention, to find out more about this haven for bakers and cookie monsters alike.
1.) What inspired you and your co-founder to help create LA Cookie Con?
We are regulars on the comic/sci-fi convention circuit and just love the energy and friendship. We wanted to bring that to our other great love: food!
2.) We love that LA Cookie Con donates a portion of proceeds to Children’s Hospital LA, could you tell us why that cause is important to you.
Our daughter has been seen at CHLA for various reasons over the years, so it was a no-brainer when we were picking a beneficiary. CHLA is an amazing resource for the community.
3.) Do you consider yourself a “foodie”?
I think everyone considers themselves a “foodie” because who doesn’t love food? But yes, I consider myself a foodie — I mean, we have 100 food booths in this show and I’ll have sampled all of them by the weekend’s end. If I’m not a foodie, who is?
4.) What advice do you have for students who are interested in event planning, marketing or baking?
If you’re interested in baking, my advice is to study from the best and advance your skills until you are the best at what you do — then go on one of those reality shows like Baking Championship or Cake Wars and make a name for yourself! If you’re interested in event planning or marketing, find an internship or assistant position so you can learn the ropes. This industry is not for everyone. You can’t test run most events — you get one chance to do it right and then you’re done.
5.) What is one of your favorite sweets?
I absolutely love cake, because it’s difficult to find. You can walk down any street and find cupcakes, ice cream, frozen yogurt, or even macarons, but only a few places do cake well.
6.) What can we expect for LA Cookie Con 2017?
Amazing celebrity appearances, delicious and unexpected samples, and a sugar coma.
Til next year cookie con!
Photography provided by Helen Zapata and Sara Zaghi