MANCHESTER, NH – Deciding what type of cupcake to create with the secret ingredient mayonnaise was a split-second decision for Chelsea Stoddard, co-owner of Queen City Cupcakes and her sister Amelia Shields, who competed on the premiere episode of Sugar Showdown on The Cooking Channel on October 1.
“It was terrifying. Very stressful. But we have watched enough cooking shows to know that the judges want to taste the ingredient. They don’t want you to bury it,” said Stoddard.
A quick brain-storming session on ways mayonnaise is used led to picnics and summer dishes.
“My sister had this idea to create a fruit slaw. And we knew that in order to really taste the secret ingredient, it had to have a mayonnaise frosting, not just in the cake, so we were inspired by lemon aioli,” said Stoddard.
While the pair felt they had the flavor down, they were concerned about their cupcake’s décor. Queen City Cupcakes is unlike other cupcake shops as they never use fondant and rarely use food coloring. And if they do use food coloring, Stoddard explained, it is the tiniest amount at the customer’s request.
“Not using food coloring or fondant sometimes puts us at a disadvantage. If someone comes to us wanting hot pink cupcakes, we just can’t do it. The food coloring changes the taste and it is not the product we are known for and proud of,” said Stoddard.
For the Sugar Showdown, Queen City Cupcakes focused on flavor and, in the end, the judges agreed. Their lemon mayonnaise cupcake with fruit slaw and candied walnuts won them $10,000.
And what is Stoddard planning on doing with her winnings?
“I’m taking the entire family to Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas,” she said.
Queen City Cupcakes is a labor of love and Stoddard’s mother and sister both left their jobs to work with her. Stoddard’s mother was a preschool teacher, but shifted careers when she helped her daughter open the cupcake shop. When business exploded, her sister gave her notice and two weeks later joined them. After six months, Stoddard’s husband, John LeMay left his full-time job to work at the shop.
“I have a really supportive family. This was my dream and they all supported me in it. So I want to take them on this vacation,” she said.
When Queen City Cupcakes arrived on Elm Street in 2011, there were lines at the door before the shop even opened. Since they bake daily, the shop would close after just a few hours because it would sell out.
Today their cupcakes are as popular as ever, but business has evened out. The first year they were unable to do weddings or events, and now this is a huge part of their business, Stoddard explained. They still have days were they close early because they have sold out, but mostly they know exactly how much they will sell each day. And if they have extra cupcakes, they get dropped off at fire stations, the police department and New Horizons Soup Kitchen.
What’s next for Queen City Cupcakes? Don’t look for a second cupcake shop, they are happy with the one they have. But a locally-made artisan shop is in the works – Stoddard is just searching for the right space downtown. As for cooking shows, Stoddard said people keep asking about a Sugar Showdown All-Stars episode.
“We haven’t heard about All-Stars, but if we get invited, we will definitely go!” said Stoddard.
Miss the Sugar Showdown episode? Click here for more dates.
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