When he was only 7 years old, Tonnie's Minis founder Tonnie Rozier started cooking confections alongside his grandmother. As he grew older, he realized baking was more than a childhood pastime, and went on to found an at-home baking business. By 2005, he had so many orders that he quit his job to field ever-growing requests for his sweets. Soon, Tonnie found himself filling orders for all corners of the Big Apple, ranging from everyday Brooklynites to Jay-Z and P. Diddy. Today, he leads his crew of confectioners in hand-crafting a menu of notable cupcakes that have competed on Food Network's Cupcake Wars and nourished the studio audience of The Wendy Williams Show in the moments after a massive food fight.
The shop’s rotating list of flavors includes signature carrot cupcakes made with hand-peeled organic carrots by Tonnie himself and moist red velvet dainties crowned with cream-cheese icing. As the seasons change, the lineup shifts to incorporate flavors that represent the time of year, such as Halloween cupcakes, colorful dainties for spring, and morsels with the date of Secretary's Day written in their frosting.
People have always told Wahkuna Baldwin to get her head out of the clouds, to come down from those blue skies and face reality. She's such a dreamer, in fact, that even her current business started as fantasy: enrolled in an entrepreneurship class at Temple University's Fox School of Business, Baldwin envisioned a fictional company named Blue Skys Bakery. A decade later, Blue Skys finally came to light, and so she remains comfortably among the clouds, crafting cakes and other sweets to deliver among New York's boroughs just miles from her current home in Skyhattan.
A graduate of Southeastern Academy, a culinary training school in Florida, Baldwin first learned to cook three-course meals at the age of 11. Today, in addition to baking tiny delicacies such as chocolate-covered cheesecakes and sweet-potato-pie pops, Baldwin applies that experience as a personal chef for clients throughout the tri-state area, helping them make healthier food choices and fold napkins into small likenesses of Julia Child.
Tast Eatery serves up healthy meals made from organic and locally sourced natural ingredients. The menu boasts a mouth-watering spread of burgers from grass-fed cattle ($5.95–$11.95), garden fresh salads ($5.95–$9.95), and sandwiches made with free-range chickens, organic veggies, and more. Organic egg sandwiches ($3.25–$4.25) pair a variety of meats and cheeses with the eponymous ovals grilled in olive oil and served on a bagel, roll, multi-grain bread, or whole-wheat wrap. The homemade veggie burger ($8.95) arrives at tables preassembled with sliced avocado, tomato, a nest of organic greens, and hummus spread, saving guests the trouble of raising their own menagerie of minerals, vitamins, and chronic-disease fighters. Thirsty patrons can sip chilly beverages, such as a banana-nutmeg moo smoothie concocted with hormone- and antibiotic-free milk or organic soy milk ($4.85–$5.95).
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
At Bing?s Burgers, cooks focus their grilling talents into crafting flavors not found at a typical drive-thru joint. While diners at the newly opened Fort Lee location can indulge in four types of slider and Bing's own beer-battered fish and chips, the menu centers around a lineup of burgers topped with combinations of unique ingredients. The Cali Burger sports a dollop of fresh, homemade guacamole and low-fat ranch dressing, and Bing's Signature Burger layers sauteed onions, gouda, and garlic aioli while also signing for incoming shipments.
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.