Decadent bites / team building activities

5 years already?!

5 years already?!

After I sold my house in Illinois, I was "happily homeless" for a few months and spent time visiting friends in Bloomington, Normal, Maryland, and Texas.  All my worldly possessions were safely tucked away in storage with the movers and I lived out of a massive suitcase with fluorescent pink tape wrapped around it.  My favorite expression was "wheels up" as I boarded planes to my next destination. 

Then on Father's Day, I loaded up my Honda and watched Illinois slowly fade in my rear view mirror as I inched closer to North Carolina. I remember intentionally NOT telling my dad I was making the 13-hour (including time change) trip alone. He would have come unhinged!

Being a lifelong Type A personality, I had already set everything in place to hit the ground running once I arrived in Huntersville.  I first marketed Beyond Decadence as a mobile pop-up bakery.  I thought that sounded so clever and catchy, but I quickly found using the word “mobile” made people think I had a food truck!  Oops!  I was merely trying to communicate I literally took the bakery to the event or client and there wasn’t a brick and mortar storefront.  The word "mobile" quickly disappeared from my vocabulary. 

In August 2017, my first pop-up event was at Bayne Brewing in Cornelius.  There I met one of my first Lake Norman friends!  She educated me on all the events, venues, and where to sell around the lake. That discussion led me to become an artisan vendor at Williams-Sonoma and an outside vendor at Birkdale Village through 2018.

After years of doing farmer’s markets, I knew exactly what I was getting into with a pop-up business model. The worst parts of any pop-up event never knowing how much you will truly sell, schlepping EVERYTHING, and being exposed to unpredictable weather elements!  I still don’t know how I managed to fit a tent, tent weights, table, chair, fan or heater, coolers, platters and display pieces, table decorations, cash box, bags, business cards, menus, and of course the individually packaged desserts in my car!  Obviously, the further the venue, the earlier I had to start the day and get the car loaded.  At the end of the day, I did everything in reverse.  After hours and months of standing on concrete, my knees were on fire and my body ached.

It felt like I traversed North Carolina, but it didn’t take long before I learned to stay close to Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, and even Mooresville.  I did pop-up events or catered desserts for construction companies, doctor’s offices, city government, a winery, the airport, federal agencies, a museum, and a host of other venues and clients.

I think it was slightly before the pandemic, the physical demands of pop-ups (and way before double knee surgery) were wearing me out.  When the pandemic hit, it turned out to be the ideal time to launch nationwide shipping and private virtual baking experiences to the general public.  However, every celebrity chef on the planet started offering free daily baking videos.  But God is faithful and I found a new rhythm as I refocused, began forming relationships, and landed corporate clients such as periodic promotional relationship with Nielsen-Massey Vanilla, Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council, National Fuel Gas, IDEO U, American Tire Distributors, AmeriHealth Caritas, Lowe's, South Piedmont Community College, Cleveland Community College, Johnson & Wales University, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, and many others.

So the “morph” (I detest the word “pivot”) from 2017 and “we deliver to your desk”, mobile pop-up bakery, online artisan bakery, nationwide shipping, local pickup, delivery, to 2022 DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) video baking demonstrations, private virtual and on-site baking experiences, speaking engagements, and continuing education classes. 

Stay tuned -- so much more in store!  Food Network, Cooking Channel, etc….I’m coming for you!

Chef Maria Kemp
Read more
The perfect storm....

The perfect storm....

I think "the perfect storm" was the title from a movie I saw years ago, but the words just sounded poetic and more interesting than "the perfect Sunday afternoon."

If you are only to here to read about luscious desserts, your reading will not be in total vain.  Now each paragraph will not cause your tummy to rumble with excitement, but I do have a little decadence to share. 

In the picture, I have a few of my new favorite things -- Match Latte from Summit Coffee at Birkdale Landing strategically nestled on top of a table with the perfect mixture of sun and shade.  My favorite Moleskin journal embossed with the University of Richmond - Robins School of Business logo, the book my eGroup (Elevation Church Bible study group) is reading, and the Southern Living "Cakes & Pie” edition from 2017.  

As I mentioned months ago, I have a lovely relationship with Nieslen-Massey Vanilla.  I create a dessert featuring their agreed upon product and they send me free product!  I've been using their amazing vanilla since I was introduced to it at the French Pastry School, a million years ago (I'm rounding) so it's a win-win for us both!  I have NEVER liked or gravitated toward the artistic creative or whimsical side of cake decorating.  However, I love flipping through a magazine on a crisp sunny day under a picturesque Carolina blue sky for flavor inspiration. Viola - inspiration struck!  I decided to merge 2 different recipes together to create a Spiced Pina Colada Cheesecake.  With all the modifications I noted, it will either be culinary genius or something we shall never speak of again.  I need to get this creation completed before the end of this month.  So I will schedule the creation time very soon!

You might be wondering -- "don't you miss baking all the time?"  My answer may surprise you, but NO, not really.  Please don't misunderstand.  I'm a firm believer that everything is for a time and a season.  And currently, I'm in a different season.  Although, I am extremely skilled in multitasking to an insane level.  I am still very firmly rooted in reality and know when enough is enough.  On the business side -- I've modified almost every page on my website, steadily moving further through the process of landing several new large corporate clients for speaking engagements and private baking experiences as a team building activity, giving a presentation this week, and working on proposals for a couple other corporate clients.  In addition, the ATD video was released and I was also awarded the CVMSDC 2022 Class I - Supplier of the Year award. 

On the personal side -- after 20 showings in 3 days, I poured over 8 offers and sold my dad's house in NY.  Since he’s elderly, I’m coordinating 14-20 other tasks for him all from Huntersville, NC, and selecting the upcoming date this month to get him on a plane to Charlotte. 

All of the above comes with an entire new set of stressors.  However, I pray a lot, ask friends to pray for me, and have found ways to maintain balance and stay on top of my game.  So for now, retaining baking would have been 1 spinning plate too many.

For everything there is a time and a season, and I wait with great anticipation to see the season change again. 




Maria Kemp
Read more