FOOD: Regina McRae’s ‘Sweet Genius’ Behind Her Grandma’s Secrets
“When I was a young girl, I used to sit in my Grandma’s kitchen and listen to her hum Gospel music as she baked. As I smelled the yeast in the rising breads, and the cinnamon and butter in the pies, I would be filled with a warm feeling of peace, contentment and love.” _ Regina McRae, founder and owner of Grandma’s Secrets
Childhood memories of fresh, homemade cakes and pies were enough to fuel Regina McRae’s passion for baking and eventually led to a thriving business as New York’s only dessert delivery company. McRae founded Grandma’s Secrets in 1995, rising above the struggles after divorce and graciously securing her place to earn a living and high praise from friends, family, food critics and celebrities such as acclaimed author Nelson George and La La Anthony. McRae is also author of Taking the Cake: Your Ultimate Cake Guide and host of Business Matters, Where Your Small Business Matters, a weekly broadcast on BlogTalkRadio. Find out what else is keeping this dynamo busy for 2013 (and her “guilty pleasure”) in the following interview with Tania Fuentez Media.
TFM: You wear so many hats so well. You’re an exceptional cake artist, author, culinary instructor who generously shares her gifts via baking, blogging and on a fun, informative talk radio show. What’s the secret behind Grandma’s Secrets success?
RM: I run on high octane! I never really fit in well with a desk job because I am so energetic, would make people surrounding me nervous. Working on so many projects at the same time is such a joy to me, and allows me to be creative at all times and continually live my passions. I have always loved to write, and being a blogger and contributing writer allows me to pursue that. Writing about business, something I am very experienced at, makes it easy! I teach classes because I love sharing the secrets. Baking from scratch is a dead art, and I don’t want it to be a lost art. And, of course, I love to bake. It is my true passion, and when customers hear that in my voice they choose me as their cake artist. So that passion sustains me and propels me forward.
TFM: When did inspiration take hold and prompt you to launch the custom cake business and related entrepreneurial ventures? Any mentors along the way?
RM: About 18 years ago, at the prompting of family and friends, I began to take orders for my desserts. I had no idea it would turn out as it has. Along the way, I have been blessed to engage in various projects, some of which have stuck! Unfortunately, I had no mentors, thus the basis of the radio show, a way to be there for others who have no mentors.
TFM: Do you remember the first cake you ever baked? How did that turn out? What’s your favorite now?
RM: I was 8 years old, and my mom had gone out and left me babysitting. I swore I knew what I was doing, so I threw a cake in the oven. Turned out I forgot the baking powder, and the cake fell. So did my ego! My favorite now would be Coconut Layer cake, only because that was the favorite of my grandmother, mother and aunt. It comes with lots of loving memories.
TFM: Where does the creative spark come from with each specialty cake project? I noticed you also offer health-conscious alternatives for the sweet tooth like diabetic cakes, vegan and gluten-free selections. Do these take longer to create?
RM: I am of the mind that everyone is a potential client. When you are limited in your creativity you also limit your customer base. I offer alternatives that other bakers don’t so no matter what you are looking for chances are that I offer it. Because I am passionate about what I do, the spark lies in wait, hoping for someone to call and need it! I eat, sleep, dream cake ideas, so I am always ready.
RM: Shows such as this not only bring you lots of publicity and recognition, but lots of bragging rights. I would love to be on Cupcake Wars, or Next Great Baker. I had true stage fright on Sweet Genius, so I didn’t get to enjoy my time on the show until watching it afterwards! However it was an honor to be chosen, and hopefully the next challenge I will be more at ease.
TFM: Can you spare a few holiday tips for the home baker who wants a stress-free kitchen.
RM: Buy ready-made! Baking from scratch is a messy process. Lots of fun, but lots of clean up.
TFM: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Grandma’s Secrets: http://www.grandmasecrets.com/
Pin on Pinterest: www.Pinterest.com/GrandmasSecrets
Sweet Genius on the Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/sweet-genius/index.html