Chocolate Girl Cupcakes’ Nicole Turk—aka Chocolate Girl—pours a lifetime’s passion for baking and cooking into crafting gourmet cupcakes, cake pops, and baked goods. Without using any preservatives, she bakes her treats from scratch, in cupcake flavors such as Neapolitan, lemon, or chocolate, all topped with decadent icings. She also makes cake pops, brownies, and whoopee pies, as well as cocktail cupcakes—cupcakes infused with liquors.
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.
As the bread-filled ovens in Our Place Bakery Café exude a gentle heat, the dining room’s similarly warm, cozy decor puts guests at ease. The cooks diligently craft the café’s menu of baked goods and familiar soul-food staples, such as vegan pastries, free-trade coffee, and golden-fried chicken. Following a spiral staircase, patrons descend into an underground cellar, where the lounge-like ambiance includes intimate lighting and cotton-candy-stuffed armchairs. Exposed brickwork encircles the space’s stool-lined bar and fully equipped sound stage, upon which musicians perform regularly throughout the week.
The Pecan Restaurant's head chef Tony Morrow collects ingredients from the recipes of his favorite chefs, finding ways to work each of them into his own cuisine. The first flavor he fell in love with was pecans, a staple of his mother's cooking. Later in life, he encountered the rich spices of Cajun and Indian cooking, the perfectly prepared meats in French recipes, and the delicate pastas of the best Italian kitchens. He took these culinary experiences and, inspired, created his own masterpieces with each one, blending and changing each until he created a type of southern cooking all his own.
He serves his fusion food in a classic southern-style dining room full of light woods and white tablecloths complemented by the deep red curtains that hang around the space. During the eatery’s remodeling, a giant Coca-Cola advertisement—first painted in 1917—was discovered beneath the room’s drywall. Now re-exposed and retouched, it emblazons an exposed brick wall and adds last-century charm to the dining room, reminding its guests of a time when life was simpler and cola poured from the drinking fountains.
Candy Cake Company concocts cake truffles, miniature cake-based confections for sweet-seeking spirits. The signature selection, a bitty ball of cake coated in frosting and chocolate, further enhances itself by arriving in lollipop form for easy eating by butterfingered barbers and noshing neatniks. Candy Cake Company's cast of seven flavors, featuring chocolate mint, red velvet, double chocolate, and coconut, satisfies the cravings of even the most indecisive Hydra heads.
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.