After the birth of her son, Debra Coleman resigned from her corporate job, and started working from home in a field for which she has a true passion: baking. Today, her handmade, handheld cakes excite taste buds with the flavors of real sweet cream butter, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, free-range eggs, and fresh fruit. Thanks to her handiwork, wedding and banquet guests of all ages dine on decadent desserts topped with cloud-like dollops of frosting and gourmet sprinkles, while grown-ups celebrate responsibly with cupcakes spiked with rum and Kahlua.
Coleman and her company give back to the community through a wealth of civic-minded initiatives. That includes using only eco-friendly cleaning products and recyclable materials in the kitchen, and donating a portion of the weekly profits to Atlanta-area schools and women's and children's shelters.
Sweet Tooth founder Chalandra "Missy" Strickland discovered her talent for baking and pastry decorating in 2004, just before her daughter's seventh birthday. With little money to spare, she baked a cake shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants, and the rest was history: her daughter's delight upon seeing it gave her the inspiration to continue perfecting her trade.
Sweet Tooth's selection of cupcake flavors runs the gamut from traditional red velvet to unconventional Bacon-licious, and several of each occupy a gleaming glass case at the café's entrance. During the day, sunlight illuminates the playful lime ceiling and cushy detached backboards of the café as patrons sip espresso drinks, trawl the Internet, and nibble on sandwiches or pastries. As night falls, the café slips on a more glamorous feel as Sweet Tooth's plated dessert menu becomes available. Adult taste buds delight in alcohol-infused cupcakes ¬and the more complex flavors of the Turtle Delight, a caramel-and-pecan brownie supporting a generous scoop of ice cream.
Sweet Tooth's baking sages also educate blossoming bakers on decorating and desserts. Dessert-tasting sessions delight with 8–10 bite-size confections, and decorating lessons help finesse frosting dexterity as students drape cake stand-ins in fondant and adorn cupcakes with tiny flowers or weekend to-do lists.
B. Beattys chefs follow the time-honored family recipes that were handed down from their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They begin each morning with breakfast, rolling up their sleeves and firing up grills before whipping up fluffy omelets and crispy chicken and waffles. Come lunchtime, they turn their attention to customized sandwiches, layering toasted rolls and sourdough bread with slow-roasted pork, fried turkey, and bacon. When dinner rolls around, they load plates with hearty servings of catfish, rib-eye steaks, and pork chops. The accommodating chefs invite guests to personalize many menu items, encouraging diners to choose seasonings for their meats and take a moment to come up with a nickname and backstory for each one of their french fries.
Servers flit about the casual dining room, where sunlight streams in through towering windows. Diners sit at booths and tabletops, sipping on smoothies and shakes.
Master Chef Rudolph Matthews adores the cuisine from his hometown so much, he just can't stop making it. He's passed down this fever to his sons as well. At A Taste of the Island Restaurant, his sons Kevin and Dashaan assist Chef Matthews in dishing up authentic Jamaican food. They make dishes such as curry goat and brown stew chicken fresh every day, not photocopied from a photocopy. One specialty, the jerk chicken, gets soaked in traditional spices before being flame-grilled.
Decorated like a float that just escaped the Mardi Gras parade, Just Loaf'n Food Truck is the mobile sibling of the brick-and-mortar restaurant Just Loaf'n. The food truck bops around to locations that include food festivals, farmers' markets, and late-night drag races, stopping in to serve up New Orleans–style po' boys, jambalaya, and 25 flavors of sno balls. The chefs stay true to their theme by using authentic NoLa ingredients such as Patton's hot sausage, Leidenheimer french bread, and Gulf Coast shrimp.
With her Easy-Bake Oven, Charlita Varner created her first sweet treat at age 8. Though her equipment has been upgraded since, her childhood passion for baking has never waned. Drawing on skills she learned from her mother, a self-taught baker, Charlita blends eggs, sugar, and butter into customizable cakes whose designs have ranged from chessboards to sombreros.
Her visual flair doesn't sacrifice taste—Buttersweet Bakery's flavors include vanilla, lemon coconut, and key lime, whose recipe Bon Appetit featured on its website. The magazine isn't the only media outlet to stand up and take note of Charlita's work. Her cakes have also basked in the spotlight on TLC's A Wedding Story and delighted guests at the BET Awards.