At a ripe young age, the owner and operator of Cupcakes After Dark knew she was destined for something great. She had her first stint with cupcakes at the age of 6 and recalls the experience fondly. It was nearly Christmas and she begged her mom for a chance to bake with a few childhood friends. "I was like the mad hatter hosting a UN-birthday," she explains. "Madly in love with the idea of creating such a sweet and delicious treat, I couldn't have been further from UN-happy!" Little did she know, her future would be just as sweet.
"I owe much of my creativity to my mother. As a child, she bought me every art project, coloring book and crayon that she could get her hands on," she recalls. "In high school, I qualified for Honor's Art because of her influence."
In the year 2000, Gricel Mendoza Chavez discovered fondant, a dough-like frosting made of sugar, gelatin and a few other ingredients. It was then that she would never look back. "My cousin's birthday was around the corner and she was into Bratz dolls at the time. My aunt asked if I would make her the cake, so I happily agreed." She decided to give fondant a try, but this initial experience rendered far from expert results. The fondant wrinkled as she attempted to color it with liquid food coloring - a big no-no! She couldn't figure out how to smooth it out, so bumps pertruded from underneath it. To make a long story short, the kids loved it, but she knew there was more to learn.
"My husband inspired me to pursue baking and decorating as a hobby in 2005," she says. A natural artist, Gricel does not have formal training, but is blessed with the ability to make art of food. She has been perfecting her craft most of her life, but more intensely within the past 5 years. "Now," she says, "it's time to open Cupcakes After Dark."
What's in name?
Cupcakes After Dark is a reflection of how Gricel's journey will begin. A full-time Special Events Director, she has only after dark hours and weekends to create her custom cake and cupcake masterpieces. When asked how she will balance a full-time job and a cupcake business, she replied, "if you have a passion for something, then anything is possible!" Opening soon, it is almost time for this Cupcakes After Dark owner to begin living her childhood dream.