Get to know a Baker: Cynthia Pacheco, Curbside Bliss
As the Tuesday afternoon Appletree Farmer's Market at Mount Pleasant came to a close, I met with Cynthia Pacheco just outside her self-made cupcake kitchen truck. Five weeks into the business, she is selling out of cupcakes regularly and maintaining a strong fanbase that follows her wherever her Curbside Bliss Cupcake truck may go.
Where did you learn to bake?
I'm mainly self-taught. It's a passion of mine. I worked in advertising for eleven years. Then I went to RIM for a couple years, then after that had some kids. I worked for a baker while I was on maternity leave, and I realized that I wanted to do it on my own. I'd been baking all along so now it's become my full-time passion.
I used to make cakes--I did wedding cakes. I loved decorating with fondant. I have a passion for cupcakes because you can still make them really pretty and tasteful but they are more individual. And we have 38 flavours--that's where we went a little nuts--so that everyone can take home a flavour and not feel too indulgent.
What are the challenges and limitations for baking inside a food truck versus having a commercial location?
Mainly licensing--that we don't have the flexibility to just sell anywhere. Location is my biggest challenge. Second is storage, as we can only store so much. When we sell out of cupcakes, I can't just whip up a new batch right away. It's nice that we do have the kitchen in the truck, so we can bake about an hour before we leave for an event.
Do you do all the preparation/baking inside the food truck?
We do everything in the truck, and we can do 60 cupcakes in 11 minutes. We like to start the prep before we get on the road. It depends what we have on board that day. Today, we didn't have anything frosted, so we did it when we got here. I have a lot of people who come and ask for something that's on the menu with a different frosting. We can change it up and customize for people, which I think they appreciate.
What's been your best-seller so far?
I'd say Peanut Butter and Nutella, and Banana Cream Pie and Coconut Cream Pie. Customers are surprised that, when they bite into the cakes, there's so much more inside. Every single one is infused with something--cream, custard, pudding, more cookie. All of our cupcakes are stuffed with something.
What new flavours/offerings are you working on?
My husband is Portugese, so we want to try to incorporate a few of their custards into the cupcakes, like the Portugese tarts, just to bring it home a little bit. That's our goal right now. We made a cayenne pepper and chocolate one on the weekend, and we added whipping cream on the inside so it cools the palette.
How many cupcakes do you sell in a typical day?
It all depends on location. At the market, I'm usually selling about 400. It works as long as the sun is shining and we have a good turnout--the weather plays a huge part.
Why have you chosen your current regular stops at Mount Pleasant and Davisville, and in Oakville?
I started looking back in February, before the truck was even finished. The Apple Tree Market just piqued my interest. I really like farmers markets and the people there.
I'm out in the West End and I always shopped at the Sherway Gardens Farmer's Market. The same person who runs it also runs the Oakville Farmer's Market on Saturdays, so I got connected that way.
If you could sell cupcakes anywhere in Toronto, what would be your ideal location?
Spadina and Bremner. You have the Rogers Centre, the CN tower, all those condos, and the bridge condo that just went up there. There are tons of people there, and a dog park. It's just an awesome area.
Is there room for more than one cupcake food truck in Toronto?
I think the city's big--I'm just in one corner right now. I mean, just look at how many food trucks there are. Even when the food trucks are in one location, there's still a lineup at every single one. I think there's always room. I know there are more cupcake trucks in the works--four of them--so it's just a matter of them finding their niche as I found mine.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Most underrated ingredient? The powders--baking powder and baking soda.
Best baking tool? My Cuisinart blender.
Favourite cupcake flavour? Coconut Cream Pie.
Strangest thing in your fridge? Half a bottle of Guiness at all times.
Favourite baker? My cousin Mary.
For more baker profiles, visit our Toronto Bakers pinterest board.
Photos by Jesse Milns
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