"Food: Science, Art, Passion, Pleasure, Adventure & Exploration"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Look Into Cupcake Camp LA 2010

The closeup shot of the Cupcake Camp LA poster!

I finally attended my first local food event. Well not literally, but I mean in an industry-related sense -- an event totally related to food and for dessert lovers of the cupcake stripe.

There are so many food events going on annually but I haven't been able to afford some of them because many are out of state and even out of the country! The long distance of these events raises the financial investment of going where I'd be concerned about not only cost of admission, but hotel stay and airfare pricing. However, I am lucky in that Los Angeles, a food city in its own right, has so much going on food-wise.

Many of you have probably heard of Cupcake Camp, started by Ariel Waldman, Lynn, Marianne Masculino, and Cindy Li. The original and first Cupcake Camp started in San Francisco in 2009 (hard to believe it wasn't that long ago!). Since then, there are over 40 different locations that host Cupcake Camp events annually. Some of those hosting locations are even beyond North America.

Los Angeles finally had its first Cupcake Camp, produced by Bakespace.com and spearheaded by Babette Pepaj. I decided I was going to attend and I bought a VIP ticket through a club discount. I figured why not buy the best admission to get in and show my support for the sponsors and charities that helped make the event possible since it's charity-driven.

The sponsors and charities at the event were:
 The event took place at the Music Box

It was my first time going there, so I was excited about that, too. Just a few nights before, Blonde Redhead (a band I adore) was playing.

Although I know my way around LA reasonably well in various parts and I'm a native, sometimes I get tripped up with directions if I am looking out for a particular venue. As a result, my drive to the Music Box was kind of an adventure, driving all around West LA, and taking a sightseeing drive toward Hollywood. One I enjoyed and needed.

Anyway, I decided to leave home early to arrive early. I didn't know what kind of crowd I was in for, even though the weather was rainy and gray.

About halfway to the venue, I realized I forgot to buy new batteries for my camera AND I had forgotten my printed out tickets at home. There was no way I wasn't snapping photos for the event. I felt like such a cotton head but I felt assured that perhaps there was an admission list for backup at the entrance (there was).

Once I arrived, I saw that there weren't that many people there, yet.

Even parking was easy. I drove right into the public lot, paid a whopping 10 dollars for parking, and found a spot a bit further back.

This was my view standing in line, although I was originally in the wrong waiting line. The other side was for VIP attendants. The event looked as if it was going to be huge because a few news vans appeared on the scene:

I thought it was cute the way the entrance was decorated, although it wasn't baroque in detail. The cupcake vector illustration for the enlarged event posters was cute, as well as the hanging cupcake piñata (YES, that was an actual piñata shaped like a cupcake. I have no idea if it was ever used or even filled with any sweets.)

The starting of the event ran a little later than scheduled. There were two sessions for the cupcake tastings. The first session was from 12-2pm and the second session was from 3-5pm. I paid for the first session.

Each person was given a certain amount of raffle tickets for their admission ticket, a clear, plastic container or two to collect and hold cupcakes, as well as a special, whimsical-looking plastic bead. The bead was to be given to any attendant's choice of best baker and at the end of the event, each vendor counted their beads to see who won first, second and third place. The raffle tickets given for each admission ticket weren't for any raffles, but for cupcake vendors at tables. A raffle ticket would allow a participate to take a certain amount of cupcake samples. Some tables allowed one cupcake, others allowed several per raffle ticket.

If I had any gripes about the event, it was with the plastic cupcake containers passed out at the entrance. I just didn't think they were substantial enough to hold all of the cupcakes that most people winded up accumulating, and I certainly wasn't going to eat all of the cupcakes I got in one sitting to make room for more (well in a gluttonous fantasy, perhaps). I took home more than 2 dozen cupcakes!

I know next time to bring my own bakery box to the event. I took note that a few people actually did do this.

By way of online photos, I've also seen other cupcake camps either pass these out or recommend that participants bring large bakery boxes. The Cupcake Camp in Montreal did this. In the photos, everyone was walking around with these big white boxes.

I took several shots once I got in.

The Music Box is an awesome-looking venue and the event certainly utilized the space beautifully. Concert stage lights in vivid and electric pinks and purples cast surreal shots of color throughout the entire venue space as the floor was teeming with tons people, Loads of tables full of fragrant and decadent cupcakes of all sorts lined up in rows and columns creating a dessert maze for people to traverse through.

Music was playing and  I heard intermittent "squees" of delight and a cacophony of elated conversations coming from the growing crowd of cupcake fans.

It was eye and mouth candy to the max. Definitely some kind of dessert toy land.

Vendors were eager to get you to try their edible wares. I felt like I was at a carnival show full of cupcake kings and queens looking to lure people in to their sugary side shows.

Originally, I had a hard time trying to figure out which table I wanted to visit first. There was so much to take in .

I was quite happy to be "Alice" here.

The first table on the left side of the room, as one entered, was the table hosting the dessert company Cake Pops LA.

This was my first time hearing of Cake Pops LA. Bakerella (blogger and author Angie Dudley) started the popularity of the cake pop concept so I am seeing more bakeshops churn out this idea in ridiculously adorable, tasty, and creative ways.

Most of the vendors were properly prepared for the event, too. Many had their business cards, menus, and discount coupons out on the table. Of course nothing was for sale at this event, since it was nearly an all-you-can-eat cupcake extravaganza, but discount coupons come in handy when you are visiting shops during their normal business hours, so smart businesses were on their toes offering these outright or in little decorate grab bags.

That's a great way to promote and one of many business promotional strategies I paid attention to.

"Cupcake Girl" in their puffy, candy-colored tutu skirts.

Some of the photos I took were taken when the floor was cleared toward the end of the cupcake tasting session. I felt that was a convenient time to get in clearer shots of the vendors who set up for the event.

The place became so crowded that it was difficult to work my way through the floor. I felt like Frogger in traffic. And I was afraid of being bumped into as my cupcake collection grew.

The place became so crowded that it was difficult to work my way through the floor. I felt like Frogger in traffic. And I was afraid of being bumped into as my cupcake collection grew in my two small containers.

I initially had one container, but had to go back and get one more, which was still inadequate.

Toward the very front of the floor, near the stage, I saw that Scharffen Berger had set up a table offering what seemed like unlimited samples of dense, rich, and intense-flavored mini chocolate cupcakes made from their delicious artisan chocolate, and small chocolate squares of semisweet, bittersweet, milk and dark chocolate wrapped in cute pastel-colored labels.

Attendants were encouraged to enter a prize give-away from Scharffen Berger
I took as many business cards as I could from each vendor. I had heard of some of these bakeshops from various sources, many from online contacts and others from random searches.

Some of these bakery owners were almost like local celebrities because they were so well-known in the city and online, and some of them were newer names to the baking business. People gathered around snapping photos of the bakers themselves with fans and admirers or at their tables in poses.

Among the many of the cupcake innovations were many alcohol-themed cupcakes. Some vendors were offering strawberry daiquiri cupcakes, Jack Daniels and coke cupcakes, tequila cupcakes, cupcakes made with beer, cupcakes infused with Baileys Original Irish Cream, and even cupcakes with vodka.

I even came across a cupcake from a table flavored like beignets with a light, creamy-green icing. I offered my plastic bead to that table because those beignet cupcakes were so incredibly good.

Sugar Babies Cupcakery (they sell by truck in LA; food trucks are all the rage, you know!)
Jack and Coke cupcakes (so good!)

The event featured a "bar" full of chocolate and vanilla frosting shots. They were replaced as they were taken, nonstop.

HINT water. No sugar, just water with fruit essence.
Cupcake carousel from Sweet Art cupcakes, including the Baileys Original Irish Cream and nutella cupcakes (YUM!)

Cupcake samples from various vendors, frosting bar, and cute, little dessert books that were passed out

Harry Potter themed table from, Parties & Cupcakes, the vendor that got my bead for their sensational beignet cupcakes seen right at the forefront.
Cupcakes loaded with caramel candy as well sweet, cream cheese icing and caramel sauce
The illustrious and unique LA baker, Heather Wong, of The Scootbaker!
More from Cake Pop LA
Rainbow cupcakes by Cait's Cakes. Their logo and website is so cute!
Temptations Cupcakes with their haute couture-looking cupcakes.

Toward the end of the cupcake tasting session, Babette Pepaj of Bakespace came up to speak to the crowd to thank the vendors for participating, everyone for coming and the sponsors for helping out. Each charity was given a chance to speak and spread awareness about their organization.

After a video was shown to the crowd from Scharffen Berger, vendors were ready to count their beads to see which tables had been given the most. As mentioned earlier, three trophies were given out for the top three bakers of the first tasting session - first, second, and third place.

Two bakeries were at a tie, having 23 beads and one bakery took first, having 27 beads. The winner of the first tasting session was Cake Pops LA. The second place winner was Sugar Babies Cupcakery, and the third place winner was a bakery I, unfortunately, didn't get to clearly hear the name of because of the loud cheering. But this is no complaint. I LOVED the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Cake Pops LA taking home grand trophy for best baker
I wish I could upload the rest of the photos I snapped for the event, but there are so many of them. My entry would go on for miles. However, I will be uploading these photos onto my Flickr account later on.

I thoroughly enjoyed attending Cupcake Camp LA and WILL be going again. I winded up paying for an extra ticket at the event just so I could get more cupcakes with raffle tickets. I was happy to show more of my support financially.

In fact, I strive to participate in the next event as a vendor, if I can, under my bakeshop name, Sweet Curiosities. It would be a great way to get involved, promote my business, and join in on the sweet fun again.

I took so many cues from what other businesses were doing. Some weren't as prepared as they should have been as a few tables had no contact information or business cards available (other than the name of their business on signage), even when many attendants would stop by and inquire after tasting their cupcakes.

I don't want to be one of those unprepared vendors. 

I think when I have this many photos to show of an event I attend or even another documented baking adventure, I will start creating stylish photo collages to upload to make better use of space in my entry. Some of the photo settings for Blogger have changed recently and I'm not enjoying them too much. The photo collages will be another way to create a signature look and flow for my blog. :)

Oh...and a few more photos "for the road." :)

Cupcake vendors were even on the 2nd floor of the Music Box venue.
Cocktail-inspired cupcakes from Sweets & Treats. It was definitely happy hour!
Tangy and sweet pink lemonde cupcakes.

1 comment:

  1. where do I find the fruit essence.
    Neal nealvch@gmail.com